Dateline: 19 May 2004, Hook Road 1 Stadium.
On a pleasant spring evening your Red Sox faced their greatest challenge, the league leading Marlins. The Sox had to travel to Marlin territory, which put them at a great disadvantage. The boys looked sharp in batting practice and crisp during pre-game infield drills. Coach Goldstein was at the helm for this big game as Coach Grossman was called away for a last minute opportunity to sign a key recruit for the 2005 season.
The Sox were up first with lead off man Jared. Jared drew a walk; he was followed by Garrett, the Red Sox Bat-A-Thon champ, who smacked one towards the first baseman. The Marlins scooped it up and made the play at first but Jared was on his bicycle and was rounding second and headed for third. The Marlins attempted to cut him off but Coach Goldstein on third just signaled for Jared to go home. When the dust settled the Red Sox had a run. Justin then walked and the next two struck out.
Garrett strode to the mound to start the bottom half. The first Marlin batter hit a sharp shot to third. T.J. made a great stop, but the runner made it to first. Garrett then struck out the next batter. A walk and a fly ball just over Kyle’s head scored a run and had two men on. The next batter hit into a classic pitcher to first play for out two, however with a few more walks and good base stealing the Marlins jumped ahead with 4. After one, it was 4-1 Marlins.
Coach Goldstein is not one for big pep talks; he’s all business, so he just sent the next Red Sox to bat. After a strikeout and some walks and some cagey base running by Ben and Kyle, the Red Sox had two more runs. The Sox’ bats were just warming up. It was now a 4-3 ball game. Michael went to the mound for the bottom of the second. He gave up a couple of walks and then a sharp hit to right where, although he did not catch it, Chris made a nice stop in the outfield. Later a hard smash was hit to T.J. at first, who picked up the ball and beat the runner to first. After two it was 6–3 Marlins. They did look like the juggernaut their press has frequently described.
Once again with no preamble and full faith in the team, Coach Goldstein sent the batter out. After a few walks, Coach Goldstein had the Marlins where he wanted them, nervous. He instructed his third base runners to keep their leads until the last possible moment. This drew a timeout from the Marlins coach who had a major conference on the mound with the entire infield. Something was up. On the next passed ball the lead runner took his lead. The catcher threw the ball to the pitcher, who, on his way back to the mound, threw it to the third baseman. The base runner was sent and the third baseman made a poor throw home and the Red Sox rejoiced with a run. So now we knew what the big conference was about — it was the old trick throw-to-third play. The Red Sox were prepared from numerous hours of “pickle” and this was no big deal. All season, this play has made the Marlins indestructible, but….the Red Sox were faster. After attempting this four different times, the Sox had scored 4 runs to end the inning and to take a 7-6 lead.. Matt, the Red Sox closer strolled to the mound. He took a deep breath and went to work. A couple of walks with two strikeouts mixed in and a nice catch on a fly ball by Jack at first ended the third inning. After 3, Red Sox 7, Marlins 6.
Darkness loomed and the coaches agreed that the fourth would be the final inning. The Marlins had some pitching problems and walked a few. Some nice hits by the Sox bat’s, also advanced runners. A miscue on third cause the first out, a sacrifice RBI caused the second and a strikeout caused the third, however six runs had crossed the plate. The Red Sox now held a commanding 13-6 lead. Matt gave up a couple of walks and then induced a grounder to Justin at first for an out. A strikeout was the second out and as Red Sox fans started to celebrate on the sideline, a final strikeout gave the Marlins their first loss of the season.
Coach Goldstein was busy doing his normal administrative post game work, but was able to give a short quote, “This was a full team effort, We had missing players, we had injured players, but this team has guts and spirit. And as my head coach always says, ‘So what if they have a big lead, there is still plenty of game, we’ll comeback.’ No truer words have been spoken then those. Great job Red Sox, Now get that microphone out of my face I got work to do.”
Coach Grossman was done with his recruiting trip and we were able to contact him by video teleconference. He said ‘What an exciting win for the team. I hear our fielding really is improving and our pitching sounded fantastic. I’m looking forward to seeing the team on Saturday”.