If 2004 was the “Year of Vlad,” then June 2 was Independence Day, Christmas morning and New Years Eve all rolled into one. Vladimir Guerrero won the 2004 American League MVP in large part due to his monstrous performances down the stretch, but there was no better day for Bad Vlad than the one he gave the Angels against the Boston Red Sox in early June.
With Red Sox ace and future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez on the mound, runs would certainly seem to be at a premium. Unfortunately for Pete and the Sox, no one told Vladdy, who torched Boston, driving in nine runs, a Angels franchise record at the time, to lead the Angels to a 10-7 victory.
Guerrero got started early, hitting a two-run homer to left field in the first.
With the score knotted, 2-2, in the bottom of the third, Guerrero stepped to the plate with two men on and laced a double into left, scoring both Chone Figgins and David Eckstein.
Down, 7-4, in the fourth inning, Guerrero came up with the bases loaded and lined a ball sharply to Red Sox right fielder Kevin Millar. Bengie Molina scored on the sacrifice fly. It was Boston 7, Guerrero 5.
With the Angels still trailing in the bottom of the sixth inning by the same 7-5 score, Guerrero once again entered the batter’s box, this time with two men on, and ripped a Mike Timlin offering just over the green wall in left center field. Guerrero’s three-run shot and second home run of the game gave the Angels an 8-7 lead. Guerrero had driven in all eight Angels runs.
An inning later, after an Eckstein hit-and-run double into right center field scored Bengie Molina from first base – one of the game’s other miraculous events – Figgins singled, setting the table for Guerrero to drive in his team-record ninth RBI of the game. Guerrero delivered with a sharp single just out of the reach of Boston shortstop Pokie Reese to push Eckstein home for the fourth time in the game.
As a fan in attendance at the Big A that night, I can honestly say it was the single greatest performance I’d ever seen on a baseball field. I was glad to share the moment with my father from the right field terrace section.
A little later in the list, we’ll feature the man who broke Guerrero’s record.