When Shane Victorino deposited an 0-2 curveball from Detroit pitcher Jose Veras into the seats high above the Green Monster in the bottom of the 7th inning of last night’s ALCS Game Six, he didn’t just provide the hit that sent Boston to the 2013 World Series. With one swing of the bat, the Hawaiian right fielder etched his name in Red Sox lore and guaranteed fans will remember that moment for eternity.
Where does Victorino's home run rank, however, among the great round-trippers in Boston's long and storied history? The Sox have won seven World Series Championships, 13 American League pennants, and have been on both ends of some of the most famous moments in baseball history. Here is a look at ten of the greatest postseason home runs in the 112-year history of the Boston Red Sox.
David Ortiz cemented his legacy long ago as the greatest clutch hitter in Red Sox history, but in 2004, he was still in the process of building up his reputation for coming up big when the stakes are the highest.
With Anaheim trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five Division Series and trailing 6-2 in the seventh inning, Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero tied the score with a towering grand slam that silenced the Fenway crowd. The game went into extra innings, and Ortiz took advantage of his opportunity in the bottom of the tenth inning.
The jolly Dominican cleared the Green Monster with a series-winning walk-off dinger off Angels pitcher Jarrod Washburn to send the Sox to the '04 American League Championship Series, where they would face their bitter rivals, the New York Yankees.
9. Mark Bellhorn, 2004 ALCS Game 6 vs. New York Yankees
Bellhorn, who hit only .264 in the '04 regular season as the Sox second baseman, had several monumental hits during the team's postseason run that same season.
In Game 6 of the ALCS, a contest made famous by Curt Schilling's bloody sock, Bellhorn provided Schilling with all the run support he would need with a three-run shot in the fourth inning off Yankee starter Jon Lieber. Boston forced a Game 7 which took place the following night, and the rest is history.
8. J.D. Drew, 2007 ALCS Game 6 vs. Cleveland Indians
After Josh Beckett's eight-inning, one-run, 11-strikeout performance in Game 5 sent the series back to Boston, J.D. Drew guaranteed there would be a Game 7 with his first-inning slam to dead center field off Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona.
The Red Sox would go on to win Game 7 in a rout before sweeping Colorado 4-0 in the 2007 World Series.
7. Johnny Damon, 2004 ALCS Game 7 vs. New York Yankees
As epic as the 2004 American League Championship series was, Game 7 was completely devoid of tension and excitement, thanks in large part to Damon's third-inning slam off Javier Vazquez.
After grueling wins in Games 4, 5, and 6, Boston cruised through Game 7 in New York to its first pennant since 1986 on the strength of Damon's two home runs and six runs batted in.
6. Shane Victorino, 2013 ALCS Game 6 vs. Detroit Tigers
Prior to his series-altering homer in the bottom of the seventh, Victorino was a measly 2-23 in the ALCS with one RBI. Trailing 2-1 in the game and 0-2 in the count, the right fielder erased all of his frustrations in the series, as well as any worries Sox fans had about Boston facing Detroit ace Justin Verlander in a potential Game 7.
5. Dave Henderson, 1986 ALCS Game 5 vs. California Angels
With the Red Sox trailing 3-1 in the series and 5-2 in the top of the ninth inning, Boston embarked on one of the most improbable comebacks in team history. With one out, outfielder Don Baylor smacked a two-run shot to draw the Sox within one at 5-4.
Three batters later, Dave Henderson came up with two outs and a man on first. With the Sox one strike from being eliminated, Henderson sent a forkball from Angels closer Donnie Moore clear over the left field fence to stake Boston to a 6-5 ninth inning lead. The Red Sox would eventually win the game in extra innings on a sacrifice fly by Henderson and claim the pennant following routs at home in Games 6 and 7.
Boston eventually lost the '86 World Series to the New York Mets in similarly excruciating fashion.
4. Mark Bellhorn, 2004 World Series Game 1 vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Yes, mighty Mark Bellhorn is responsible for two of the most important home runs in Red Sox postseason history. The light-hitting, strikeout-prone second baseman's two-run shot that clanked off Pesky's Pole in the bottom of the eighth inning broke a 9-9 tie and gave the Red Sox a huge Game 1 victory.
This home run's importance is often forgotten due to Boston's eventual sweep of the Cardinals, but at the time, Bellhorn provided one of the most clutch homers in franchise history.
3. Bernie Carbo, 1975 World Series Game 6 vs. Cincinnati Reds
The 1975 World Series is considered by many baseball fans and experts to be possibly the greatest in the history of the sport, and the sixth game in Boston was certainly the most memorable contest of that series.
Boston trailed three games to two and was in desperation mode in the bottom of the 8th inning of Game 6. With two on and two outs, Cincinnati's Big Red Machine (consisting of Hall of Famers Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench) led 6-3, needing just four more outs to claim the title.
In stepped pinch-hitter Bernie Carbo, whose two-out, two-strike, three-run homer to center field off Rawly Eastwick tied the game at six heading into the ninth inning.
Carbo's game-tying blast set the stage for another memorable home run a few innings later.
2. David Ortiz, 2004 ALCS Game 4 vs. New York Yankees
Boston's historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS all started with Ortiz's walk-off blast in the 12th inning of Game 4 off Paul Quantrill.
Dave Roberts started the comeback by stealing the most important base in Red Sox history, with Mariano Rivera on the mound and the Sox trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the season hanging in the balance.
Roberts came around to score on a single by third baseman Bill Mueller, setting up Ortiz's epic home run three innings later. Boston proceeded to win the next three games to become the first team in baseball history to win a postseason series after trailing 3-0.
1. Carlton Fisk, 1975 World Series Game 6 vs. Cincinnati Reds
The most important home run in Red Sox playoff history, and one of the most famous dingers in Major League Baseball history, belongs to Red Sox Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk.
With Boston down 3-2 in the series, the Red Sox had to have Game 6 at Fenway in order to force a Game 7.
Carbo gave the Sox life with his three-run shot in the eighth inning, and Fisk helped Boston capitalize on the opportunity in the bottom of the 12th. The Vermont native turned on the second pitch he saw from Reds reliever Pat Darcy, sending a high fly ball toward the Green Monster.
As he made his way up the first base line, Fisk famously waved his arms, attempting to will the ball fair. The ball struck the foul pole above the Monster, sending Fenway into a frenzy and setting up a decisive Game 7.
Boston would go on to lose Game 7 and the series, but Fisk's iconic home run will live forever in the memory of Red Sox fans.