While watching the Red Sox cavort around the bases 16 times at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, the TBS broadcaster (and former major league pitcher) Ron Darling found cause to lament that the Bostonians were continuing to play aggressively despite having a 10-1 lead in the mid-to-late innings. The thrust of his remarks seemed to be was that “in the old days,” there were unwritten rules that limited how a team with an overwhelming advantage should conduct itself at bat, on the field, and around the bases as the game rolled on to its conclusion.
With the scoreboard showing the Red Sox in double figures in the runs column on Tuesday night, to Darling’s uttered dismay, Boston left fielder Andrew Benintendi swung at a three balls and no strikes pitch and also stole a base. But to those of us with long experience (in my case, 65 years) watching the Bronx men time and again find a way to beat the Red Sox, no run advantage is enough against the Yankees.
Historians of this rivalry no doubt can list numerous examples of big comebacks by both teams in their century-long competition, but the result of a game played at Fenway Park just six years ago – Sat., April 21, 2012, the day after the celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary – underlines the flaw in Darling’s reasoning by emotion, and the affirmation of the Red Sox drive to go for all they could get Tuesday night as they went up 2-1 in a five-game playoff series.
In the top of the sixth inning of that springtime game, Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira lofted one over the fence to make the score Boston 9, New York 1. The final score? Yankees 15, Red Sox 9. New York had back-to-back seven-run innings in the seventh and eighth as Boston starter Clay Buchholz gave up five home runs, the bullpen collapsed, and the Red Sox bats went silent. The New York comeback that night matched the biggest comeback in the team’s history.
“I think we’ve hit bottom,” Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. “If this isn’t bottom, we need to find some new ends of the earth.”
Yes, it wasn’t a playoff game in 2012, but it was Red Sox vs. Yankees, when, history tells us, no runs are enough until the final out is in the record books.
– TOM MULVOY