David Ortiz did it again. His home run on Sunday night, a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning, tied the Detroit Tigers in Game Two of the 2013 American League Championship Series. It was a big home run by a former Timber Rattler.
Ortiz, a Rattler in 1996, has hit fifteen postseason home runs in his career as he heads into Game Three against the Tigers this afternoon.
This list will not include that home run against the Tigers from Sunday. It's just a little too recent to be a part of it. If we revisit this list next season, that grand slam will be on it, but for now…here's what I came up with for you.
5. October 16, 2003 - What Could Have Been? It's Game Seven of the 2003 American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had just cut into Boston's lead with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make the score 4-2. Ortiz is coming to the plate with one out in the top of the eighth inning. David Wells is heading into the game to relieve Jeff Nelson. Ortiz cracks the first pitch from Wells over the wall and the Red Sox have a three run lead and six outs left to play. But, Boston could not hold on to that lead. The Yankees tied the game and eventually won on a home run by Aaron Boone in the bottom of the eleventh to move on to the World Series.
4. October 20, 2004 - The Beginning of the End of the Story. Just over one year after the first home run on this list, the Red Sox were on the verge of a huge comeback. They were down 3-0 in the ALCS against the Yankees but had fought back to even the series and send it to a Game Seven at Yankee Stadium. Ortiz took his first turn at the plate with two outs, a runner on first, and Kevin Brown on the mound. Manny Ramirez, the runner at first reached on a single, but Johnny Damon had been thrown out at the plate trying to score the first run of the game. Ortiz cracked a homer on the first pitch Brown threw him and the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead. They never lost that lead on the way to their first AL pennant since 1986.
3. October 8, 2004 - Series Winner. The Red Sox were tied with the Anaheim Angels 6-6 in the bottom of the tenth inning during Game Three of the American League Divisional Series. Boston had won the first two games of the series in California and a win would move Boston back into the ALCS. Francisco Rodriguez had just struck out Manny Ramirez for the second out of the inning. Jarrod Washburn came into the game for Rodriguez to face Ortiz with pinch-runner Pokey Reese at first base. Ortiz jumps on the first pitch from Washburn and hits the ball out of the park for a series-ending home run.
2. October 18, 2004 - The Comeback Continues. The Red Sox trailed the Yankees 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game Five of the 2004 ALCS. Former Appleton Foxes pitcher Tom Gordon had entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and got Manny Ramirez to ground into an inning ending double play to keep the Yankees up by a pair of runs. Ortiz was up to start the bottom of the eighth inning and he drilled an 0-1 pitch from Gordon for a home run to get the Red Sox to within 4-3. Later in the inning, the Red Sox tied the game. Ortiz got up later in the game and knocked in the winning run with a two-out single in the 14th to give the Red Sox a 5-4 win and send the series back to New York.
1. October 17, 2004 - The Comeback Begins. The Red Sox were down and out. They trailed the Yankees 3-0 in games and 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Mariano Rivera was coming into the game. This was it. There would be no last-second, heart-breaking loss this year. Just their ancient rivals stomping on their World Series dreams with a dominating sweep. It wasn't that Ortiz hadn't done his part to keep the Red Sox alive. Back in the fifth inning, his two-out, two-run single off Orlando Hernandez had put Boston up 3-2. But, the Yankees came back (Note: They always come back, don't they?) to score two runs in the top of the sixth for a 4-3 lead. Then in the ninth, Kevin Millar drew a walk. Dave Roberts pinch ran and stole second. Bill Mueller drove in Roberts with a single and the game was tied. It stayed tied until the bottom of the twelfth. Ramirez singled against Paul Quantrill, who was the last Wisconsin Badger baseball player still in the big leagues, to start the inning. The count actually went to 2-1 before Ortiz cracked the game-winner to keep hope alive for the Red Sox.