Boston's championship aspirations took a hit Friday as the Red Sox fell into an 0-2 hole in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan after an 8-2 loss to the Astros in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.The Red Sox now face an uphill battle to advance in the postseason,
Boston's championship aspirations took a hit Friday as the Red Sox fell into an 0-2 hole in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan after an 8-2 loss to the Astros in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.
The Red Sox now face an uphill battle to advance in the postseason, needing three straight wins, including in a potential winner-take-all Game 5 in Houston, where the Astros went 48-33 in the regular season. But if any team is going to overcome those odds, it'd be the Red Sox -- the only franchise that has ever done it before.
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Teams down, 0-2, in Division Series with a 2-2-1 format have advanced in just four of 39 instances, and teams that lost the first two games on the road are 2-20. However, those two teams are of Boston vintage: the 2003 and 1999 Red Sox. Those are the only two clubs to come back from an 0-2 deficit (in the 2-2-1 format) while playing Game 5 on the road.
The 2015 Blue Jays and the 2001 Yankees overcame an 0-2 deficit against the Rangers and A's, respectively, but did so with home-field advantage. The eventual World Series-champion Giants also came back after losing the first two games of a 2012 National League Division Series matchup against the Reds, but the divisional round switched to a 2-3 format that year.
For Red Sox fans looking for reasons for a hope, here's a look back at the comebacks of 1999 and 2003.
1999 ALDS vs. Indians
The Red Sox became the first team to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a Division Series in the 2-2-1 format when they advanced past the Indians in 1999. After scoring being outscored, 14-3, in Games 1 and 2 at Jacobs Field, the Red Sox's lineup came alive when the series transitioned to Boston. The Sox won, 9-3, in Game 3 for the first playoff victory at Fenway Park since the 1986 World Series, then collected 24 hits and an MLB playoff-record 23 runs in Game 4.
Boston completed the revival with a come-from-behind win in a Game 5 thriller. With his club trailing, 8-7, in the fourth, Red Sox manager Jimy Williams opted to turn the ball over to an injured Pedro Martinez, who exited his Game 1 start early with a back injury. Martinez held the Tribe hitless and struck out eight batters for the remaining six frames while Troy O'Leary put Boston ahead with a three-run seventh-inning homer -- his second of the night after his third-inning grand slam -- in the eventual 12-8 victory. The win advanced the Red Sox advanced to the AL Championship Series against the rival Yankees, which they lost in five games.
2003 ALDS vs. Oakland
One year before their remarkable ALCS comeback in 2004 -- in which the Red Sox won eight consecutive games against the Yankees and Cardinals to end their 86-year championship drought -- Boston foreshadowed that accomplishment with yet another improbable rally.
The Red Sox opened the 2003 ALDS against the A's by dropping two games in Oakland, including a 12-inning walk-off defeat in Game 1. The tide turned in Game 3, however, when a number of errors and baserunning miscues kept the A's from putting the Red Sox away and paved the way for Boston pinch-hitter Trot Nixon's walk-off home run in the 11th.
Nixon's homer propelled Boston toward its three-win rebound as the Red Sox went on to defeat the A's by one run in both Games 4 and 5, again punching their ticket to an ALCS vs. the Yankees. Boston lost that series in seven games, but they would get their revenge by sending the Yanks home the following year en route to the franchise's first World Series title since 1918.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.