Faith-Off: Boston's Top-5 All-Time Playoff Moments

No. 5 on the list of Boston's Top-Five All-Time Playoff
Moments: Dave Henderson, 1986 ALCS  

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

David Ortiz’s dramatic, game-tying grand slam against Detroit in Sunday night’s ALCS Game Two was just one of many heroic postseason highlights for the Boston Red Sox — and Big Papi himself — but where does it rank?

Here, submitted for your approval, are the Top-Five All-Time Boston Red Sox Playoff Moments:

5: A Little Moore For Henderson

Oct. 12, 1986
ALCS Game Five vs. California
Anaheim Stadium
Red Sox 7, Angels 6 (11 innings)

The Red Sox were down 3-1 in the series and 5-2 in the game versus the Angels in Game Five when Don Baylor stroked a two-run homer in the ninth to bring the Sox within a run. After Rich Gedman was hit by a pitch off reliever Gary Lucas, on came closer Donnie Moore, who was only one strike away from sending the Angels to their first World Series when he served up a forkball to Dave Henderson, who deposited it into the left-field stands to give the Sox a 6-5 lead.

While the Angels tied it up in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox would score again in the eleventh when Henderson hit a sac fly to score Baylor with the eventual winning run.

No. 4: Carlton Fisk's foul-pole poke in 1975
4: Pudge's Nudge

Oct. 21, 1975
World Series Game Six vs. Cincinnati
Fenway Park
Red Sox 7, Reds 6 (12 innings)

Simply put, one of the most iconic games in baseball history. The Reds held onto a 3-2 edge in the series and led 6-3 in the eighth inning when former Reds first-rounder Bernie Carbo ripped a pinch-hit three-run homer to left center with two out to tie up the game. But that’s not what we all remember, is it? Not a chance.

This one was all about Carlton Fisk, who launched Pat Darcy’s second pitch high and deep to left in the twelfth and tried to frantically wave it fair as he hesitantly shuffled down the first base line. It worked. Fisk jumped for joy as he watched the ball bounce off the foul pole atop the Monster, giving the Sox the win, a tie in the series and therapist Sean Maguire a great story to tell young Will Hunting one day.

No. 3: Salty wins Game 2, 2013 ALCS vs. Detroit
3: Tigers By The Tail

Oct. 13, 2013
ALCS Game Two vs. Detroit
Fenway Park
Red Sox 6, Tigers 5

After a Game One in which the Sox were no-hit until the ninth inning and struck out 17 times, the Sox still couldn’t buy a hit in Game Two until Shane Victorino singled off Max Scherzer in the sixth. One batter later, Dustin Pedroia drove him in with a double off the Green Monster to cut the Detroit lead to 5-1, but there was still plenty of work to do and not much time left in which to do it.

As he’s done so many times in the past, David Ortiz picked up his teammates, put them on his shoulders and got the job done in the eighth when he blasted a Joaquin Benoit changeup into the Red Sox bullpen for a game-tying grand slam. Jarrod Saltalamacchia would win the game and tie up the series for the Sox one inning later with a single to left to score Jonny Gomes.

No. 2: Johnny Damon scores the winning run,
2004 ALCS Game Five vs. New York

2: David Ortiz, Marathon Man

Oct. 18, 2004
ALCS Game Five vs. New York
Fenway Park
Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14 innings)

Game Two of Boston’s improbable, 0-3 comeback against the New York Yankees was sparked by — who else? — David Ortiz, who homered off former Sox reliever Tom Gordon in the eighth to cut the Yankees’ lead to 4-3. Jason Varitek tied the game up in the same inning with a sacrifice fly off Mariano Rivera to send the game into extra innings.

After another five-and-a-half innings of scoreless baseball settled nothing, Estaban Loaiza walked Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez in the 14th inning and brought up Big Papi with two outs. In the tenth pitch of the at-bat, Ortiz singled to center to cash in Damon, give Boston the 5-4 win and cut New York’s series lead to 3-2.

No. 1: Ortiz's ALCS Game Four walk-off vs. New York, 2004

1: A Rivera Runs Through It

Oct. 17, 2004
ALCS Game Four vs. New York
Fenway Park
Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings)

This one is a lead-pipe cinch for top spot. We all know the sequence. Kevin Millar with the lead-off walk from Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-runner Dave Roberts and the Steal of the Century. Bill Mueller’s single to score Roberts to tie the game up at 4-4 and head to extras.

In the twelfth, Manny Ramirez led off with a single against Paul Quantrill before David Ortiz stepped to the plate and drove a two-run homer into right to give the Sox their first win in the ALCS and set the stage for the biggest comeback in baseball history.


- '99 Game 5 ALDS vs. Cleveland, Troy O’Leary 3-run homer, Red Sox win 12-8
- '03 Game 5 ALDS vs. Oakland, Manny Ramirez 3-run homer, Red Sox win 4-3
- '04 Game 6 ALCS vs. New York, Alex Rodriguez slaps Bronson Arroyo’s glove, Red Sox win 4-2
- '04 Game 7 ALCS vs. New York, Johnny Damon Grand Slam, Red Sox win 10-3
- '07 Game 7 ALCS vs. Cleveland, Dustin Pedroia 2-run homer, Red Sox win 11-2

Twitter: @jan_doh