86 Greatest Moments vs. Boston #29-20
#29 | DiMaggio Ties Streak | 7/1/1941
It was one of the greatest summers in the history of baseball, one that the American public was happy to occupy itself with as the War continued to escalate overseas. The attack on Pearl Harbor was still 5 months away and the American psyche was still swathed with a tenuous feeling of safety as Ted Williams calculatingly went about hitting .406 and Joe DiMaggio daily assailed one of baseball’s most unbreakable records.
On May 15th Joe DiMaggio knocked a seemingly irrelevant single off of Eddie Smith in a 13-1 loss to Chicago, but the hit began his storied 56-game hitting streak. By July 1st DiMaggio was batting .349 with a 42 game-hitting streak heading into a twin bill with the Red Sox, who trailed the Yanks by 5 games in the race for the pennant. In the opening game DiMaggio went 2-for-4 with an RBI in a 7-2 victory in the Bronx, leaving him a hit in the second game away from tying Wee Willie Keeler‘s record of 44 consecutive games with a hit, set in 1897. The Yankee Clipper came through with a single, his only hit of the day, in a 9-2 win. DiMaggio would re-write the record books the next day with a 3-run home run as New York swept their rivals out of town.
#28 | Ruth’s 300th HR | 9/8/1925
Ruth slammed home runs at a pace that defied logic. He hit his 300th home run at a time when it would have taken the top home run team in the American League 3 years to accomplish that feat. Ruth did it in just his 8th year as a position player.
#27 | Mattingly’s 6th Grand Slam | 9/29/1987
In a 6-0 win over the Red Sox, Mattingly provided all the offense the Yanks needed, smacking a 3rd inning grand slam on a 1-2 pitch with Roberto Kelly, Ricky Henderson (who had just stolen his 700th base), and Willie Randolph on the pond. Even more remarkably, it was the 4th home run the lefty-hitting Mattingly hit off of a left-handed pitcher. Incredibly, those were the only 6 grand slams Mattingly would hit in his Major League career. His 6 slams set a Major League record, breaking the mark of 5 held by Ernie Banks, Jim Gentle, and Jim Northrup.
#26 | 9-0 Comeback | 4/21/2012
Just 2 weeks into the season, the Red Sox newest skipper, Bobby Valentine, was already facing serious questions about his abilities as the Sox fell into last place, 3.5 games behind the Yanks. Heading into a Saturday afternoon matchup at Fenway, the Sox were desperate for a win only 14 games into the season. It looked like Freddy Garcia was the perfect medicine as Boston pinned 7 hits and 5 runs on him in just 1.2 innings of work. Clay Rapada and David Phelps didn’t fair much better out of the bullpen, giving up 1 and 3 runs respectively, in a combined 4.1 innings of work. On the other side, Mike Aviles held the Yanks scoreless through 5 innings.
Up 9-0 with 12 outs to go, it appeared the Sox would waltz to an easy victory over their rivals and have something on which to build. Instead, with 147 games left on their schedule, their epitaph would begin to be written. In the 6th, Mark Teixeira broke the scoreless string with a 2 out, seemingly inconsequential home run off of Felix Doubront. The game moved to the 7th, with the Yankees still trailing 9-1, when the Bombers began to stir.
After Andruw Jones struck out looking, Russell Martin and Eduardo Nunez hit back-to-back singles. Derek Jeter followed with a 4-pitch walk to load the bases for Nick Swisher who drilled the first pitch he saw from Vincente Padilla over the Green Monster, breathing new life into the Bombers. Their hot hitting continued as Robinson Cano scorched a double to left-center, chasing Padilla from the game. As Matt Albers relieved the battered Padilla, Alex Rodriguez reached on an error by Nate Spears, bringing Teixeira to the plate. On a 2-2 pitch Teixeira brought Boston’s collective heartbeat to a halt, crushing a home run to left-center to cap a 7-run inning and bring the Yankees within a run of Boston.
Rafael Soriano worked around a leadoff double in the 7th, giving the Yanks a chance to tie the game in the 8th. They would do that and more. Nunez knocked a leadoff single to left and Jeter followed with an 8-pitch walk, putting the go-ahead run on first for Swisher. After the Yankee right fielder fell behind 1-2, he crushed a double off the wall in centerfield that plated Nunez and Jeter for an improbable, incredible, inconceivable 10-9 advantage. The Yanks were far from done as Cano was intentionally walked and Rodriguez drew a walk, loading the bases for Teixeira who already had a pair of home runs. Tex drilled a line drive down the right field line that bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double that scored 2. Curtis Granderson was then intentionally walked and Martin followed with a double that plated A-Rod and Tex to give the Yankees a 14-9 lead. Incredibly the Yanks were not done as Jeter hit an infield single that scored Martin. When the dust finally settled the Yanks had manufactured back-to-back 7-run innings and in one stretch in the 8th had 9 of 10 batters reach base.
After the thrilling rally the Sox had no fight left in them, going quietly in the 8th and 9th to give the Yankees a scintillating 15-9 win. Swisher and Teixeira each finished 3-for-6 with 6 RBIs. The only time the Yanks had scored more runs after the 6th inning was in a 20-1 shellacking of Boston on June 19, 2000. Watch the comeback here.
#25 | DiMaggio Wins MVP | 1941
Joe DiMaggio won his 2nd Most Valuable Player award by a vote of 291-254 over Ted Williams, despite Teddy Ballgame’s .406 batting average. DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak propelled him to the win even as Williams edged the Yankee Clipper in runs, home runs, walks, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. No one has equaled William’s .406 since, but at the time it did not seem as unattainable as DiMaggio’s hitting streak, another feat that has yet to find an equal. Another factor in DiMaggio’s favor may have been the Yankees winning the pennant 17 games ahead of the Red Sox.
#24 | Gehrig Hits 3 HR | 6/23/1927
Lou Gehrig became the 2nd Yankee to ever hit 3 home runs in a single game, the first of 4 times he would accomplish the feat, in an 11-4 victory at Fenway. The Iron Horse finished 4-for-5 with 5 RBIs while Dutch Reuther earned the complete game victory.
#23 | Little Leaves in Pedro | 10/16/2003
Long before Aaron Boone‘s home run gave the Yankees the pennant, Boston led game 7 of the ALCS 5-2 in the bottom of the 8th. Derek Jeter began a rally against Pedro Martinez with a 1-out double, scoring 5 pitches later on a single by Bernie Williams. When Hideki Matsui followed with an 0-2 ground-rule double, manager Grady Little emerged from the Boston dugout to, presumably, remove Martinez from the game after a gutsy effort. But in a move that would be scrutinized for the remainder of his life, he left Martinez in to face Jorge Posada with runners at 2nd and 3rd and a season hanging in the balance.
For the 4th straight time Martinez got 2 strikes on a Yankee batter, only to come up on the short end of the at bat. The Yankee catcher dunked a 2-2 pitch for a double to shallow centerfield, between a triangle of Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, and Todd Walker, that tied the game at 5, chased the former Cy Young-winner from the game, and rejuvenated a packed house at the Stadium. Though the game was tied, you could not help but feel that the Sox had already squandered away their first trip to the Fall Classic since 1986, a fate Boone would seal 3 innings later.
#22 | Mantle’s Death Threat | 9/7/1953
A few days before a Monday double-header at Fenway Park, Mickey Mantle received a letter in the mail in which a man threatened to shoot him from the stands if he played in the series. The FBI advised The Mick to skip the twin bill, telling him they could not guarantee his safety in front of a crowd of over 30,000 people. Police escorted him from the train station in Hartford, CT to the ballpark to ensure his safety en route to the game. Despite the frenetic atmosphere, Mantle courageously played and in the 4th inning hit a home run off of Mel Parnell, Boston’s ace, deep to left-centerfield. Mickey later claimed he had never run around the bases faster.
#21 | The Boston Massacre | 9/7–9/10/1978
On July 19th the Red Sox led the Yankees by 14 games, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle for New York as they sat in 4th place in the AL East. However, by the time they met the Sox for a 4-game set on Lansdowne Street, New York trailed by just 4 games with a chance to even the division race by the end of the weekend. The Yanks turned the first 3 games of the series into bloodbaths, winning by scores of 15-3, 13-2, and 7-0. In the series finale the Bombers rode an 18-hit effort, including 3 each from Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Roy White, and Bucky Dent, and solid pitching from Ed Figueroa and Goose Gossage to close out a dominant sweep with a 7-4 win.
#20 | Yanks Win Pennant | 10/18/1999
After 96 years of animosity, the Yankees and Red Sox finally met in the playoffs, with a trip to the World Series on the line. After the Yanks took the first 2 games by a run, they bounced back from a 13-1 drubbing in game 3 to win a pivotal game 4, 9-2. In game 5 the Yanks roared out of the gates when Derek Jeter followed a Chuck Knoblauch single with a home run off of Kent Mercker. They added 2 more in the 7th when 2 errors led to 2 Yankee runs for a 4-0 lead. Orlando Hernandez pitched brilliantly, keeping the Sox off the board for the first 7 innings before yielding a home run to Jason Varitek to open the 8th for Boston’s only run. In the 9th Jorge Posada added an exclamation point, homering off of Tom Gordon with Chad Curtis on 2nd. Ramiro Mendoza closed out the Sox with a 1-2-3 9th, giving the Yanks their 36th pennant.