Red Sox: A revisit to the core of the 2004 bullpen
By Rick McNair
Keith Foulke is in my memories for two things and one is certainly good and the other bad. Foulke made the underhanded toss that finally ended 86 years of various miseries. The second incident was one that will live with a certain level of infamy within Red Sox Nation. Foulke – frustrated over incessant booing after another meltdown in 2005 – retorted with his famous or infamous “Johnny from Burger King” comment.
Foulke was a big free agent ticket that was signed for the 2004 season to a three-year deal. The previous season with the Oakland Athletics Foulke had led the American League pitchers in appearances (67) and saves (43).
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Foulke was essentially a two-pitch hurler who had a fastball according to Fangraphs that certainly had little zip to it at 87.8 MPH, but the killer was a devastating change that registered 76.4 MPH. Foulke had excellent control in 2004 with a 1.63 BB/9 and a very respectable K/9 of 8.57. Foulke registered 32 saves with seven blown saves, but where the dividends came was the playoffs.
Foulke made 11 postseason appearances, allowing just a lone run while recording three saves. Against the Yankees in the ALCS Foulke was exceptional with five appearances, a save and no runs allowed in six innings. The three-game stretch to the game seven final was money in the bank. The World Series saw Foulke appear in all four games, allowing his only run with the big play a comeback ball by Edgar Renteria to end it all.
In 2005 it fell apart for Foulke. A knee injury resulted or contributed to poor performance and the closer job was lost to Timlin. Foulke continued to have issues with the fans and media, but off-season surgery was expected to restore Foulke’s ability. That did not happen and after the 2006 season, Foulke again went the free agent route.
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Foulke had only one season in Boston of note and even the regular 2004 season left something to be desired, but in the playoffs, it all came together for Foulke and the Red Sox.