Boston Red Sox Legends: 2004 closer Keith Foulke

ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 27: Keith Foulke
ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 27: Keith Foulke /

The Boston Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, and closer Keith Foulke was crucial to bringing a World Series title home.

When you think of the Boston Red Sox from 2004 you probably think of Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez. Those guys are all legends in their own right, and I’m sure I’ll go over their Boston career at some point in the future, but right now I want to talk about the man who helped make the final out to bring the World Series title to Boston, closer Keith Foulke.

Foulke was a 31-year old MLB veteran in 2004, having played for the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, and Oakland A’s before signing with Boston. In the regular season, he made 32 of 39 saves and had just a 2.17 ERA. Over 83 innings Foulke struck out 79 batters and walked just 15, with 5 of those being intentional.

Of course, Keith Foulke was needed in the 2004 postseason as well. He appeared in 11 total games between the ALDS, ALCS, and World Series, and he finished 8 of those with 3 saves. In the closeout Game 3 of the ALDS against the Anaheim Angels, Foulke pitched 1.2 innings of shutout baseball. He struck out 3 Angels batters in Boston’s 8-6 win as they advanced to the ALCS against the New York Yankees.

We all know what happened in the first three games of the American League Championship Series in 2004, but in the final four games, Boston stormed back in historic fashion. Foulke was used a ton in Games 4, 5, and 6. In Game 4 he pitched 2.2 innings in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, striking out 3 Yankees batters and holding them to no runs. His stellar pitching down the stretch kept the Red Sox within a run. The Dave Roberts steal happens, and a Bill Mueller single to center field drives him in to tie the game in the 9th inning. The Red Sox, of course, end up winning the game on a David Ortiz home run in the 12th inning.

In Game 5, Keith Foulke again held the New York Yankees scoreless. He recorded the final out in the 7th inning and then pitched all of the 8th, after which Boston scored 2 runs to tie the game. They ended up winning it 5-4 in the 14th. Foulke’s save in the series actually came in an extremely close Game 6. This was Curt Schilling’s bloody sock game, and he went 7 full innings allowing just 1 run. Bronson Arroyo gave up a run in an inning, and then Keith Foulke entered a 4-2 game in the 9th. He walked 2, but he also tallied 2 strikeouts as he shut down New York to force a Game 7. Luckily for the Red Sox, Foulke wasn’t needed in Game 7 as they won easily, 10-3.

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The World Series sweep was great for the Red Sox team, and for Keith Foulke individually. He earned the win in Game 1 with 1.2 innings pitched and 3 strikeouts. In Game 4, he earned the save and was a part of history recording the final out on a ground ball back to the pitcher’s mound. He flipped it to first base and the Boston Red Sox, for the first time in 86 years, were World Series Champions. In the 2004 postseason, Foulke pitched 14 total innings and allowed just 1 run for a 0.64 ERA.

Boston did not have the same type of success in 2005 and 2006 and Foulke was a part of that before moving on. Still, just based on 2004 alone, Keith Foulke has earned Legend status in Boston.

Next: the 50 greatest Red Sox of all-time

Now, Foulke is one of the best Red Sox and baseball minds to follow on Twitter. He constantly interacts with fans and has some great thoughts and opinions. You can find him @KeithFoulke. He’s always around for 2004 reunions and I hope to someday get to meet the man whose jersey I wore for each 2004 postseason game as a 12-year old in Salem, MA.

Which Boston sports legend would you like us to cover next? Drew Bledsoe? Bobby Orr? Larry Bird? Paul Pierce? Tedy Bruschi? Ray Bourque? Let us know on Twitter @CandCFansided!