Red Sox Memories: 2007 Mother’s Day Miracle features dramatic comeback

BOSTON - JULY 12: Julio Lugo #23 of the Boston Red Sox drops the bat to run to firstbase during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park July 12, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 12: Julio Lugo #23 of the Boston Red Sox drops the bat to run to firstbase during the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park July 12, 2007 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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A look back at the Mother’s Day Miracle in 2007 when the Boston Red Sox staged an epic comeback to defeat the Baltimore Orioles.

The Boston Red Sox had much to celebrate during a 2007 season that culminated in a World Series championship but along the way they staged one of the most thrilling regular-season comebacks in franchise history.

On May 13, 2007, the Red Sox hosted the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. This was supposed to be a cakewalk on a Mother’s Day afternoon. Boston had gone 15-3 against the division-rival Orioles the previous year and they had taken three of the first four match-ups to begin that season.

These clubs were heading in opposite directions at the time but the scrappy O’s put up an unexpected fight. Josh Beckett held them to a pair of runs over four innings before being removed with a cut on his right middle finger. Flipping the bird in this case apparently meant handing the Orioles a commanding lead as Boston’s bullpen coughed up a few more runs.

The Red Sox trailed 5-0 entering the ninth inning of a game that was quickly slipping away but this lineup wasn’t ready to quit.

A weak grounder to the shortstop from Julio Lugo led off the bottom of the ninth, leaving the Red Sox with only two outs to work with.

That’s when Boston caught a break that would ignite the rally. On an 0-2 pitch, Coco Crisp hit a pop up high in the air between third base and home plate. Baltimore had inserted Chris Gomez as a defensive replacement at third base to begin the inning but apparently he wasn’t ready for the ball to come his way so soon after entering the game. Catcher Ramon Hernandez raced to get under the ball when he realized his teammate wasn’t going to get there in time but the ball popped out of his mitt and Crisp scampered safely to first base.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie had been cruising to that point and the runner on base clearly was put there through no fault of his own but manager Sam Perlozzo still made the puzzling decision to pull him from the game. Even more baffling was that he called on Danys Baez to face David Ortiz despite the right-hander’s troubling platoon splits. Lefties hit a scorching .346 against Baez that year.

Big Papi made them pay with a deep shot to left-center that hit above the Granite City sign near the edge of the Green Monster and bounced out toward center field. Ortiz strolled into second for a double as Crisp raced home for Boston’s first run of the game. There was still a long way to go but at least the shutout had been avoided.

Wily Mo Pena slapped a base hit down the third base line past a diving Gomez to put runners on the corners and send Baez to the showers.

The O’s countered with another underwhelming right-hander. Chris Ray had only walked two batters all season to that point but he immediately walked the first two he faced, the second of which came with the bases loaded to push in a run. Ball four on that second free pass nearly hit Kevin Youkilis. It was clear that Ray was struggling to find the plate but the O’s inexplicably stuck with him anyway.

Jason Varitek stepped to the plate with the bases still juiced and ripped a double into the gap in right-center field to score a pair. The Red Sox had climbed back to within a run as the O’s bullpen continued to unravel.

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An intentional walk to Eric Hinske re-loaded the bases for Boston. This strategy actually worked out for Baltimore as it led to a force out at home plate on Alex Cora‘s chopper to second base. It was a smart play by Brian Roberts considering there was no time to turn a double play and throwing to any other base would have allowed the tying run to score.

The Red Sox were down to their last out with Lugo stepping into the batter’s box for the second time in the inning. The bottom of the ninth began with Lugo and it would end with him as Boston’s lineup had batted around.

Baltimore was sticking with Ray on the mound. It was his game to lose and lose it he would. He battled Lugo to a full count before the Red Sox shortstop stepped out of the box for a brief timeout. NESN analyst Jerry Remy compared the moment to freezing a kicker in football. Ray had been wild since entering the game and Lugo wanted to get in his head by forcing him to think about it a little longer.

On Ray’s 30th pitch of the outing, Lugo chopped the ball to the right side. First baseman Kevin Millar took a few steps to his right to field the ball cleanly but it was up to the pitcher to cover the base. Ray appeared to beat the hustling Lugo to the bag but it wouldn’t matter since he dropped the routine toss from Millar.

Lugo was awarded a base hit and the game-tying RBI while Ray was charged with an error that allowed the winning run to cross home plate. The Red Sox walked off with a dramatic comeback win with a six-run rally in the ninth.

Boston benefited from two errors in the inning and some abysmal bullpen management from their opponent but it was the speedy Lugo who turned out to be the hero. Lugo wasn’t the most popular free-agent signing in recent memory and his debut season in Boston would turn out to be a massive disappointment but he’ll always be fondly remembered for this game.

Some players would have admitted defeat on a routine grounder but Lugo turned on the jets to ensure it would be a close play. His speed forced the O’s into a mistake.

The Red Sox would go on to win 96 games and the division crown on their way to the World Series that year. They finished with only a two game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East, a margin of error that would have been much tighter down the stretch if Boston hadn’t pulled off this miraculous comeback.

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This game set the stage for a magical season by proving this team could never be counted out. A Mother’s Day miracle!