The situation: 2003 ALDS Game 4, Athletics lead series 2-1
The moment: Ortiz’s two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning gives the Red Sox the lead for good
Before Ortiz had solidified himself as one of the greatest playoff hitters of all time, he was arguably a postseason goat. He began his first postseason series with the Red Sox by going 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in the first two games of the 2003 ALDS, both Red Sox losses.
The Red Sox were able to grind out a victory in Game 3 even though Ortiz had another 0-for-4 day. By the time he strode to the plate with two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth, Ortiz was mired in a 0-for-16 slump.
Game 4 of the 2003 ALDS was a classic back-and-forth affair. The Athletics scored first on an RBI single by Jermaine Dye, but Red Sox starter John Burkett escaped the bases-loaded, no-out jam with three straight pop-ups.
The Sox jumped ahead in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run shot by Johnny Damon, but the A’s took the lead right back on a triple by Adam Melhuse and a two-run homer by Jermaine Dye. Boston cut the lead to one on a solo bomb from Todd Walker but still trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Only six outs away from their first ALCS appearance since 1992, the Athletics went for the kill, bringing in closer Keith Foulke for the two-inning save. After Damon grounded to short for the first out, Nomar Garciaparra launched a fly ball off the top of the Green Monster.
Foulke induced a fly ball to center from Walker for the second out and had no choice but to intentionally walk Manny Ramirez to bring up the struggling Ortiz.
With a memorable, historic season on the verge of slipping away, Ortiz would deliver. He smacked a fly ball over the head of Dye to bring home both Nomar and Ramirez and give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
The shot of Ortiz pointing to the Red Sox dugout while the Fenway crowd went ballistic behind him would be the first memorable image of his immortal career.