2004 Red Sox fall to 2001 Mariners in seven 

June 3rd, 2020

The 2004 Red Sox had their deep run in Dream Bracket 2 ended by the loaded 2001 Mariners in a seven-game epic in the semifinals.

Up 3-2 with the series headed back to Fenway Park, the Sox lost two nail-biters to seal their fate.

This one had to sting for a Boston squad that broke out to a 2-0 series lead and then won what seemed to be a pivotal Game 5 on the road.

The ’01 Mariners won an American League-record 116 games, so there was no shame in falling short in this series for the ’04 Sox.

Curt Schilling did his best to pitch Boston into the final round, winning both of his starts and not allowing a run over 12 1/3 innings.

The M’s did a great job by holding the devastating combo of David Ortiz (two RBIs, .550 OPS) and Manny Ramirez (.120/.214/.160 slash line) in check. Trot Nixon (9-for-18) and Jason Varitek (.893 OPS) did their best to pick up the slack, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Though Ichiro Suzuki hit .323 in the series, the Red Sox essentially neutralized him as he didn’t score a run or drive any in. But Seattle’s pitching was stingy in the final five games of the series.

The simulated competition, featuring many of the greatest teams in baseball history, is being produced by Out of the Park Baseball 21, MLB’s most realistic strategy game (PC and Mac).

The ’01 Mariners go on to face the ’86 Mets in the Dream Bracket 2 Finals. Anyone with any sense of history knows that Boston will be rooting for Seattle in that series.

Here is a game-by-game recap of this hard-fought series between the ’04 Red Sox and ’01 Mariners.

Game 1: Red Sox 5, Mariners 0
Schilling just about always performed at his best on the big stage. And this game was no exception. The big righty fired six marvelous innings (two hits, no walks, nine strikeouts) to lead the Red Sox. Mark Bellhorn put the game away for Boston by smashing a two-run homer off John Halama in the bottom of the eighth. Kevin Millar provided the first run of the series when he ripped a solo shot over the Monster against Mariners ace Freddy Garcia.

Game 2: Red Sox 5, Mariners 4
Pedro Martinez had a strange start, lasting just 3 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out eight. Fortunately Martinez minimized the damage while he was out there, allowing three runs. That gave the Boston bats the chance to rally for the tight win. Bellhorn came up big again, this time with a solo shot against Jamie Moyer that tied the game in the fourth. Though the Mariners went ahead one last time with a run in the fifth, the Red Sox tied it on an RBI single by Millar in the seventh. That set the stage for Bill Mueller, who snapped a 4-4 tie by roping a homer to lead off the bottom of the eighth against Jeff Nelson. Keith Foulke closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Game 3: Mariners 4, Red Sox 3
Back home, the Mariners were down by a run with six outs to go and in danger of falling into a 3-0 deficit in the series. But they came up with two huge runs in the eighth on a soft single by Carlos Guillen against Curt Leskanic to wrestle the lead from Boston. In the ninth, the Sox couldn’t gain any traction after a leadoff walk by Nixon. Boston didn’t have any sustained rallies, scoring single runs in the second, fourth and fifth. It was interesting that Red Sox manager Terry Francona lifted Bronson Arroyo after five shutout innings. The Mariners did all their damage in the game against Boston’s bullpen.

Game 4, Mariners 7, Red Sox 4
Bret Boone struck for a huge three-run homer against Alan Embree in the bottom of the seventh to snap a 4-4 tie. It was Bellhorn who again came up with an important hit, a solo homer in the fourth. In fact, Bellhorn was the only player who had as many as two hits for the Red Sox. Mark McLemore was in the middle of the action for the Mariners, scoring three times to go with two hits and an RBI.

Game 5, Red Sox 2, Mariners 1
The Red Sox became the first team to win a road game in the series when they rode another brilliant effort by Schilling. The righty put his team one victory from the finals by firing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed three hits and one walk while punching out four. The only scoring Boston got the entire game was in the third, when Cabrera broke the scoreless tie on an RBI double and another run came home on a double-play groundout by Mueller. Foulke got his ninth save of Dream Bracket 2 with a shutdown bottom of the ninth.

Game 6, Mariners 3, Red Sox 2
The Red Sox just needed a big hit in the late innings to avoid this series getting to Game 7. But it never came. Though they tied it up with two runs in the sixth, the go-ahead run was never pushed across. Perplexingly, Bellhorn was cut down trying to steal second for the third out of the inning with the dangerous Ramirez at the plate. Perhaps Francona decided to be more aggressive due to Ramirez’s ongoing struggles in the series. He finished with just one RBI in the seven games. Seattle’s late-inning crew of Arthur Rhodes and Kazuhiro Sasaki didn’t allow a baserunner in the final two innings. McLemore’s RBI single off Embree with two outs in the eighth proved to be the game-winner.

Game 7, Mariners 2, Red Sox 0
Who would have thought a two-run homer by John Olerud in the top of the first inning would account for the only scoring in the entire game? Fenway Park went silent, and so did the Boston bats, as the ’01 Mariners came through with a huge pitching performance to put the ’04 Red Sox on ice. Aaron Sele, who was drafted and developed by the Red Sox and pitched for them until 1997, made himself at home at Fenway with a strong performance (6 1/3 innings, three hits) en route to the win. Millar gave the Red Sox a glimmer of hope when he drew a two-out walk in the ninth. But pinch-hitter Doug Mirabelli struck out looking against lefty Norm Charlton, ending the series.