Nomar Garciaparra earned his second consecutive batting title. Pedro Martinez earned his third Cy Young award in four years. But it wasn't enough to get the Red Sox to the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Boston finished 85-77, 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
The Red Sox signed superstar slugger Manny Ramirez off the free agent market. Ramirez's impact was felt immediately. He clubbed a three-run homer in the first pitch he saw in a home uniform at Fenway Park. On April 4, Hideo Nomo pitched Boston's first no-hitter since 1965. The start against the Orioles at Camden Yards was Nomo's first in a Boston uniform. But injuries to Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek decimated any chance Boston had of qualifying for postseason. Manager Jimy Williams was fired on Aug. 16 and replaced by pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. The Red Sox went 17-26 the rest of the way.
The Red Sox began a new era, as the ownership group led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino officially took over on Feb. 27. The next day, GM Dan Duquette was fired and replaced on an interim basis by Mike Port. On March 5, Joe Kerrigan was fired as manager. He was replaced on March 11 by Grady Little, who had formerly been a coach in Boston under Jimy Williams. The Red Sox went 93-69 under Little, but missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe gave the Sox their first 20-win tandem since 1949. The highlight of the season was Lowe's no-hitter at Fenway on April 27 against the Devil Rays. Manny Ramirez, despite missing six weeks with a fractured left index finger, won his first batting title.
It is a season that will live on forever in the minds of Red Sox fans. After a 98-win regular season -- the most victories posted by the club since 1978 -- the Sox, led by stellar performances from Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez and newly acquired Curt Schilling, went into the postseason as the American League Wild Card entry. They swept the Angels in the Division Series. The Sox were nearly swept out of the American League Championship Series, trailing the Yankees, 3-0, in the best-of-seven series. But that was when they officially became historymakers, becoming the first team in Major League Baseball history to recover from a 3-0 deficit. After thumping the Yankees in seven games, the Sox swept the Cardinals for their first World Series championship in 86 years. Ramirez was named MVP of the Series.
It's tough to follow a dream season, but the Red Sox did their best in 2005. Retooling in the offseason by bringing in veteran starters David Wells and Matt Clement, the Sox were primed to repeat as world champs. After a stop-and-start first two months, Boston reclaimed first place in the American League East on June 24, and held the top spot for most of the second half of the season. David Ortiz was the lynchpin of the offense, putting together a season (.300, 47 HR, 147 RBIs) that would see him finish second in American League MVP voting. Outfielder Manny Ramirez threw together another stellar year, hitting 45 home runs and driving in 144. After hobbling into the playoffs in the final weekend, a banged-up Sox pitching staff couldn't hold off the eventual World Series-winning White Sox, and Boston fell in an AL Division Series sweep.
It looked like the Red Sox were primed to play postseason baseball for a fourth consecutive October. Led by perhaps the best defense in team history, manager Terry Francona's team bolted out to a 59-36 record and led the American League East by 3 ½ games on July 21. But the bottom fell out of after that, as the team was decimated by injuries to key players such as Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon and Tim Wakefield and went 27-40 the rest of the way. However, the season still had plenty of excitement, none bigger than David Ortiz setting a club record with 54 homers. Jonathan Papelbon (0.92 ERA) established himself as an elite player in his rookie season. Curt Schilling bounced back from his injury-marred 2005 with 15 wins. Boston's .98910 fielding percentage was the best in Major League history.
This year's wire-to-wire performance by the Red Sox was one of the most impressive in team history. Manager Terry Francona's team took over first place in the American League East on April 18 and never let it go. It was Boston's first division title since 1995. The fun did not stop after the 96-66 regular season. The Red Sox swept the Angels in the Division Series, came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Indians in a seven-game American League Championship Series and then broke out the brooms again in a World Series sweep of the Colorado Rockies. It was the second World Series championship for the Red Sox in four years, this after not winning one for 86 years. There were several individual standouts, from the Rookie of the Year performance of second baseman Dustin Pedroia to a 20-win season by Josh Beckett to more heroics from star run producer David Ortiz. Third baseman Mike Lowell, the MVP of the World Series, also had a big year, hitting .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs. After much fanfare, Daisuke Matsuzaka came over from Japan and won 15 games in his rookie year.
Despite numerous injuries to key players, the Red Sox reached the 95-win plateau and reached the postseason for the fifth time in six years. Viewed as underdogs in the Division Series, the Red Sox knocked off the 100-win Angels in four games. Down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Championship Series, the Sox nearly pulled out yet another improbable revival that would have landed them in the World Series. In Game 5, Boston trailed 7-0 with seven outs to go. But they proceeded to pull off the most miraculous postseason comeback since 1929. After winning Game 6, the Red Sox came up short, 3-1, in Game 7. But it was a season to be proud of. Dustin Pedroia won the American League MVP, scoring 118 runs, producing 213 hits and winning both Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Kevin Youkilis also had a breakout year, finishing third in the MVP voting. Daisuke Matsuzaka went 18-3 and finished fourth in the race for American League Cy Young Award. On July 31, general manager Theo Epstein took the bold step of trading future Hall of Fame slugger Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers in a three-team exchange that brought left fielder Jason Bay to Boston.
It was another successful regular season during the regime of general manager Theo Epstein, as the Red Sox qualified for the postseason for the sixth time in seven years. The Red Sox hit the 95-win plateau on the nose for second year in a row, marking the sixth time they've had at least that many victories in Epstein's seven years on the job, and the fifth time in six years under manager Terry Francona. The only big disappointment was the postseason, when Boston endured a three-game sweep in the Division Series against the Angels.
Several individuals stood out. Kevin Youkilis hit .305 with 27 homers, 94 RBIs and a career-high on-base plus slugging of .961. Dustin Pedroia didn't quite repeat his Most Valuable Player Award season of the year before, but he still put up impressive numbers, which included 115 runs, 185 hits, 48 doubles, 15 homers and 20 stolen bases. Left fielder Jason Bay, playing his first full season in Boston, also had a big year from a production standpoint, clubbing 36 homers and driving in 119 runs. The offense got a big infusion at the end of July, when Epstein acquired elite run producer Victor Martinez from the Indians. Martinez fit right in from the start, producing big hits and emerging into a team leader.
On the pitching side, Jon Lester overcame a shaky first two months and was brilliant from June on. He set a club record for a lefty with 225 strikeouts while winning 15 games and posting a 3.41 ERA. Josh Beckett led the staff with 17 wins. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was an All-Star for the fourth time in four years, notching 38 saves and a 1.85 ERA.