Yanks' Fenway torrent not to be forgotten
BOSTON -- This was a game that will not be forgotten by anybody who was at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Years from now, the New York Yankees will be able to smile as they tell their grandchildren about it. The Boston Red Sox will recall it, too, but mostly in times of insomnia.
What the Yankees did to the Sox on Saturday could be described in numerous ways, but let's settle on "pounded from pillar to post."
That's a narrow winner over "turned a perfectly pleasant Saturday in New England into a Stephen King nightmare scenario."
Also in the running was "changed the entire course of human history." Upon reflection, that may have been a slight overstatement. But only slight.
The second century of Fenway Park has started with a bang. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it was the kind of a bang that you get from an exploding gag cigar. After losing on Friday, 6-2, during the 100th birthday of this iconic ballpark, the Red Sox seemed to have righted the ship on Saturday, getting a solid start from Felix Doubront, beating up on Yankees starter Freddy Garcia and taking a seemingly safe 9-0 lead after five innings. After six innings, it was a 9-1 lead, but still, it was rocking chair time, wasn't it?
No, it wasn't. Over the next two innings, the Yankees scored 14 runs -- seven in each frame. When the dust settled, it was New York 15, Boston 9.
A parade of Red Sox relievers was turned into a group of unwilling accomplices. The Yankees hit the ball over walls, over outfielders, off walls. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine occasionally employed the intentional walk, but this merely delayed the carnage, rather than stopping it.
The Red Sox fans who were enjoying a baseball festival over the first six innings had nothing left toward the end but booing Valentine when he came out to make a pitching change. This was not an infrequent occurrence. A total of five Boston relievers gave up 13 runs, while recording a total of five outs during the Yankees' onslaught.
On the other side of the argument were truly impressive offensive performances. Nick Swisher hit a seventh-inning grand slam that brought the score to 9-5 and gave the Yankees life. He also hit a two-run double that put New York ahead in the eighth. Mark Teixeira hit two home runs and a double, matching Swisher's RBI total with six.
What was the secret to the Yankees' success? And was this more a reflection of another terrific New York offense, or a Boston bullpen in serious need of repair? It might have been both, but the proven factor here, over time, has been the Yankees' attack.
"The big thing is, our guys don't give away at-bats," manager Joe Girardi said.
"Just because we were down nine runs doesn't mean our guys are going to give away three or four innings of at-bats," Teixeira said.
Swisher said: "We never give up," which translates into pretty much the same thing. But he also gave credit to New York's bullpen for holding Boston scoreless over the last four innings. That was an unselfish and suitable bit of commentary. There is plenty of credit to go around when you have just scored 15 unanswered runs.
It was surprising at first, when a game that was clearly headed in Boston's direction was suddenly stampeded in the other direction. But then, there became something of the inevitable about it. The Sox couldn't get outs. The Yankees wouldn't make outs. You don't get this feeling from too many baseball games. This is a two-sided game -- many-faceted, but still two-sided. But then there were these two innings on Saturday when the Red Sox kept changing pitchers and the Yankees kept looking like they were taking batting practice.
This performance tied the Yankees record for the largest deficit overcome in a victory, now done five times, most recently on May 16, 2006, against Texas. The Yankees had also done this once before against the Red Sox, but that was in 1950 -- 62 years and three days ago.
These two teams will resume play on Sunday night, if a Boston forecast absolutely filled to the brim with rain is incorrect. But in the long history of this rivalry, what happened on Saturday will take a permanent place -- perhaps a more prominent place for the Yankees, but still permanent in both directions.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.