NEW YORK – The New York Yankees turned to an unusual source for inspiration Sunday: the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
That year, Boston became the only team in major league history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven postseason series, winning four straight games against the rival Yankees in the ALCS and going on to its first World Series title since 1918.
Chad Bohling, the Yankees director of mental conditioning, sent three to four minutes of video highlights to manager Aaron Boone with New York trailing Houston 3-0 in this year's AL Championship Series.
“We watched that video today, oh yeah,” Boone said. “We sent it out to all our coaches and (got) it out to our players.”
Boston trailed 4-3 in the ninth inning of Game 4 at Fenway Park when Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar leading off, pinch-runner Dave Roberts stole second on the next pitch after three pickoff attempts and Bill Mueller hit a tying single. David Ortiz hit a game-ending home run in the 12th, Boston won in 14 innings the next day on Ortiz's RBI single and then the Red Sox won twice at Yankee Stadium.
None of the 25 previous teams to trail 3-0 had come back to win.
“It was just the belief that they had,” Boone said. “They had a confidence and you see Millar — `Don't let us win one. ... Why not us?'"
“Look, we still have time,” Boone added. "We’re obviously now as far up against it as you can be and not in a great spot, but you can’t get ahead of yourselves, either. We've just got to go out and it starts with the first inning, trying to win pitches and then try and ultimately win a game and at least put a little pressure on them and then start to see what can happen."
Boston is the only one of 39 teams that trailed 3-0 and came back to win. Thirty clubs that were up 3-0 completed sweeps.
Boone spoke with Ortiz, now a Fox broadcaster, before Sunday's game. ESPN commentator Eduardo Pérez arranged the call.
“Eduardo had Big Papi on. He FaceTimed him in here, so I said `hey' to him," Boone said. "He had some advice.”
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