What list of this nature would be complete without a good old fashioned Yankees vs. Red Sox matchup? And how can it get any better than a game featuring 27 total runs scored, a six-RBI night from the recently departed Mike Lowell, five lead changes (the last of course being the best), and a battering of newly acquired Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett?
Yes this game had it all, ultimately resulting in what was Boston's ninth straight win at the time -- second straight over the struggling Yankees (Boston would go on to sweep New York in the 3-game set at Fenway).
The Yankees began a night that was initially billed as a pitcher's duel between former Florida Marlins teammates Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett by jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top half of the 4th inning, thanks in large part to Robinson Cano, who blasted a 2-run home run in the third frame and followed that up with a 2-run double in the fourth (both at the hands of Beckett) to produce the Sox's 6-run deficit.
However, the Sox's bats wouldn't let the Yankees off the hook that easy, something that became the theme of the night when everything was said and done.
Boston's offense awoke from their early game slumber in a big way during their half of the fourth inning. After Pedroia, Youkilis, and Drew filled up the bases, Jason Bay got the scoring started with an RBI single. Varitek wasted no time in continuing the onslaught slugging a grand-slam off of a now visably shaken Burnett.
Beckett settled, albiet temporarily, in the fifth by tossing a scoreless frame (quite the feat on this particular night). Burnett's half of the inning, however, failed to go as smoothly. Jacoby Ellsbury homered to right field to erase the once six run lead even quicker than it was created. With the score knotted at six runs a piece, Bay again came through big, this time knocking a double that plated both David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis. Somehow, after being down 6-0, the Sox found themselves up 8-6 heading into the sixth inning. Believe it or not, it gets even more ridiculous from here.
In possibly the worst way possible, the Yankees managed to tie the game at 8-8 in the top half of the sixth. Once iconic Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon homered scoring Yankees captain Derek Jeter, quickly destroying the small lead that Boston had worked so hard for. Without recording an out in the sixth, Beckett's night was finished. Final line: Ugly.
Boston would again grab hold of the lead in their half of the sixth following a David Ortiz sacrifice fly that scored Nick Green. Heading into the seventh inning: Yankees 8 Red Sox 9.
By this point, you should be able to guess what happens next. If you guessed that there would be yet another lead change, then it's safe to assume that you've been doing a bang-up job paying attention so far. Good work. This time, the Yankees' runs came via a rare error from second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Berroa and Gardner both scored as a result of the play as the Sox handed the lead back to New York, 10-9.
With the star of the previous game Jason Bay standing at the plate in the seventh, the Yankees decided to intentionally walk him and take their chances with Mike Lowell. Not the right move on this night. Lowell proceded to hit a 3-run blast Over The Monster (a little self-promoting there, forgive me) giving the Red Sox a 12-10 lead. A lead that, despite the trend leading up to this point in the game, actually managed to hold up.
Cano made things interesting in the eighth by cutting the lead to one with a solo home run, his second long ball of the game, but that would be all the runs that New York would accrue on this night. Pedroia added and RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, subsequently followed by Mike Lowell's bases-clearing double, bringing us to our final score of 16-11.
Just writing this game summary has given me a splitting headache.
After the game, Bay put it best:
"It was one of the more unbelievable games I've been involved in as far as back and forth," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "It was a little bit of everything, and the bullpen again held and we got some timely hits."
Interesting facts from the Red Sox's victory over the Yankees
- The six run comeback was the largest since 1968, when Boston came back after being down 9-3 to beat New York by a final score of 11-10.
- Lowell started the game 0-3 with two strikeouts, stranding five baserunners, only to finish with six RBIs (the most for any Red Sox player against the Yankees since Carlton Fisk circa 1973).
- The 27 total runs was tied for the fourth most scored in this rivalry at the time.
- The game's two starting pitchers, Beckett and Burnett, both surrendered eight runs. The first time since 1987 that both starters in a Yankee-Red Sox matchup allowed eight or more runs. The two that accomplished the feat prior to this game? Tommy John and Roger Clemens.
- Mark Teixeira became the first Yankee to register five walks in a game since Roger Maris did it back in 1962.
- A total of twelve pitchers threw a combined 385 pitches, managing to retire the side in order just twice (once for each team).
- The 4 hours and 21 minutes that it took to complete this game is tied for the sixth-longest non-extra inning affair in baseball history. The top two on that list belonging to, of course, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.