86 Greatest Moments vs. Boston #39-30
#39 | Chesbro Wins 41st | 10/7/1904
In a 3-2 win at Hilltop Park, Jack Chesbro won his 41st game of the season, the most by any pitcher since Dave Foutz and Ed Morris in 1886. Chesbro had come to the Highlanders from the Pirates in 1903, for a $1,000 signing bonus, and rewarded New York with a 21-15 season. Before the 1904 season he added a spitball to his repertoire and completed 48 of his 51 starts, setting Major League records for wins, complete games, and innings pitched (454.2) in a season. The next closest pitcher had 26 victories.
#38 | Gehrig’s 1st HR | 9/27/1923
Before becoming the regular 1st baseman in 1925, Lou Gehrig played in 13 games for the Yankees in 1923 and 10 in 1924. In his only long ball during that span, he homered at Fenway Park in an 8-3 win. Babe Ruth chipped in with a double and a triple with 2 RBIs.
#37 | 480 Footer for Mantle | 9/21/1956
With only 9 games left in the regular season, the batting race between Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams was reaching its crescendo. Williams went 2-for-4 but Mantle closed the gap by going 3-for-5 with a 480-foot moonshot that landed a foot from the top of the Fenway bleachers. Williams ended the day leading the race .356 to .352, but Mantle would continue to narrow the gap over the final week, beating Williams out on the season’s final day to win the batting title and the Triple Crown.
#36 | A-Rod’s Walk Off | 8/7/2009
After a 13-6 win over the Red Sox the night before, the Yankees held a 3.5 game lead over Boston in the AL East. But 1 win did little to erase the pervading question about the Yankees: They’re good, but can they beat the Red Sox? After losing the first 8 matchups of the season versus their rivals to the north, the Bombers needed a statement game, and it came on August 7th. For 7 innings Josh Beckett held the Yankee bats in check, giving up just 4 hits and 0 runs while striking out 7. Not to be outdone, A.J. Burnett allowed just 1 hit over 7.2 innings with 6 strikeouts.
The bullpens picked up where the starters left off, maintaining the 0-0 tie over the next 7 innings. Both closers, Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon, had been used and the trusted bullets in each manager’s arsenal were running out. Phil Coke pitched a 1-2-3 15th inning for the Yankees and Terry Francona trotted out Junichi Tazawa for a 2nd inning of work in the bottom half of the frame. Jeter singled to right to start the inning but, after groundouts by Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira, it looked as though the game might move into the 16th. Striding to the plate was the Yanks’ cleanup hitter and a man who desperately needed signature moment in 2009: Alex Rodriguez. Coming into the game he was batting just .261, but with one swing he would send a message to the fans, his team, and the Sox that he and the Yankees were a force to be reckoned with. On a 2-1 pitch A-Rod drove a line drive over the left-centerfield wall to give New York a thrilling 2-0 win.
In many ways it was a watershed moment for the 2009 Yankees. After the victory they would win their next 7 matchups with Boston, giving them the edge in the season series 9-8, and take the AL East crown by 8 games. It would also be a defining moment for Rodriguez, who would come alive in October and almost single-handedly lead them through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs with 5 home runs and 12 RBIs.
#35 | Stirnweiss Wins Batting Title | 9/30/1945
George “Snuffy” Stirnweiss earned the Bombers’ 5th batting crown, and first since DiMaggio in 1940, beating out Chicago’s Tony Cuccinello by the narrowest of margins: .00009. In the closest batting race in Major League history, both had averages of .30854, with Stirnweiss earning the tie-breaker by way of the 6th digit after the zero.
The race came down to the last game of the season. Against Boston in a 12-2 win, Stirnweiss went 3-for-5 (.600) while Cuccinello went 1-for-3 (.333) vs. St. Louis, giving the Yankee infielder the title.
#34 | Ibanez Finds the Magic | 10/2/2012
The Yankees entered the final series of the season, a 3-game set with Boston at the Stadium, tied with Baltimore in the AL East. After a 10-2 win in the opener and an Oriole loss in Tampa Bay, New York held a 1 game edge with 2 games to play. However, on October 2nd the O’s outlasted Tampa Bay in a 1-0 victory, and with the Yankees trailing 3-1 in the 9th it appeared that the two rivals would be deadlocked atop the division going into the final day of the season. Facing that uncertain prospect, the Yankees summoned some October magic, thanks to the acquisition of an aging slugger the previous February.
Curtis Granderson led off the 9th with a single, bringing a 40-year-old Yankee to the plate, in the game as a pinch-hitter for Eduardo Nunez. Ibanez fell behind 1-2, then smacked a game-tying, 2-run home run into the 3rd row of the right field bleachers to tie the game,as what remained of 41,564 roared. But amazingly, Ibanez was not done. After the Yanks stranded Derek Jeter at 3rd with 1 out, the game moved to extra innings and the Bombers were held scoreless with chances to walk off in the 10th and 11th. Rafael Soriano and Derek Lowe held Boston in check in the 10th, 11th, and 12th, giving the Yanks another chance to win, one they would not squander.
Teixeira and Robinson Cano recorded 2 quick outs versus Andrew Miller, but Francisco Cervelli, who played in just 3 games in 2012, began an unlikely rally with a walk. Granderson followed with a walk, moving Cervelli into scoring position for the man of the hour: Raul Ibanez. Ibanez fell behind 0-1, then grounded a pitch the opposite way, through a 10 foot wide hole between 3rd and short, that scored Cervelli for a thrilling, 4-3, come-from-behind victory. The Yanks completed the sweep the next day with a 14-2 thrashing to clinch their 18th AL East championship. Check out Ibanez’ game-tying home run here and walk off single here.
#33 | 16-Game Winning Streak | 5/26/1926
After sweeping a 4-game series with Boston, by a total of 5 runs, the Yankees extended the 2nd-longest winning streak in franchise history to 16 games. In a back-and-forth contest at Fenway, the Yanks held a 7-1 lead only to see it vanish after a 4-run 5th and 2 more runs in the 6th. Undeterred, the Yanks added 2 runs in the 7th and would not relinquish the lead, winning 9-8. Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, and Mike Gazella each recorded 2 RBIs while Garland Braxton earned the win with 3.1 innings of 1-hit ball in relief of Sam Jones.
#32 | Ed Barrow Comes to New York
Ed Barrow might have been the biggest hero in the history of the Boston Red Sox, but owner Harry Frazee spurned his manager’s admonishment and sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees following the 1919 season. After winning the World Series in 1918, Frazee began selling off his star players to get out of debt and his club finished in 6th place in 1919. Things did not look much better after the 1920 season when the Sox finished in 5th place while the Yankees finished 3rd, thanks to 54 home runs from Ruth. It was then that Barrow decided to leave his post as the Red Sox manager, one he held from 1918-1920, to become the general manager of the up-and-coming Yankees.
Barrow would become known as “The Yankee Empire Builder,” engineering 14 pennant-winners and 10 World Series champions during his 24 years as an executive. He began by pilfering his former team of stars like Wally Schang, Waite Hoyt, Joe Bush, Everett Scott, Joe Dugan, and Herb Pennock. During his first 8 years the Yanks won 6 pennants, but Barrow developed so much more than winning teams, innovating the farm system and a scouting network that would benefit the franchise for decades to come. Barrow was also a risk-taker, giving the epileptic Tony Lazzeri a chance as well as the “damaged” Joe DiMaggio, despite a previous knee injury, decisions no other executive in baseball was willing to make. For his forward-thinking genius, this brilliant architect was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.
#31 | Ruth’s 1st Yankee HR | 5/1/1920
In a 6-0 victory over Boston at the Polo Grounds, Babe Ruth hit his 1st home run as a Yankee and his 1st of a record 54 in 1920. Bob Shawkey allowed just 4 hits in a shutout for his 1st victory of the season.
#30 | Yanks Clinch Pennant | 9/30/1922
New York began the day leading the St. Louis Browns by 2 games in the American League and could clinch the 2nd pennant in franchise history with a victory in either of their final 2 games of the season. Powered by a 3-run first inning, in which Babe Ruth, Wally Pipp, and Bob Meusel recorded RBIs, the Yanks claimed the title with a 3-1 victory at Fenway Park. Waite Hoyt, the former Red Sock, pitched brilliantly in 8 innings of work, allowing 1 run while striking out 4.