Boston steal party! Sox run over Yanks in historic fashion

June 17th, 2024

BOSTON -- The running Red Sox? That’s something you’ve heard well … almost never. Playing their home games at the bandbox known as Fenway Park, the Red Sox have thrived on wall-banging thumpers for much of their existence.

But on Father’s Day, it became clear these aren’t your father’s Red Sox. Or your grandfather’s Red Sox.

The 2024 edition is built on youth and athleticism, and manager Alex Cora is encouraging his players to lean into that identity. And so they did on Sunday Night Baseball, setting a franchise record of nine stolen bases in a game and upending the AL East-leading Yankees, 9-3.

“Expect that from us,” Cora said after witnessing his team run a track meet in front of an electric crowd. “We’re gonna push the envelope.”

And perhaps nobody pushes it faster than rookie , who stole four of those nine bases. Hamilton joined Jacoby Ellsbury (who holds the franchise record with his five-steal effort on May 30, 2013) and the late Jerry Remy as the only players in club history to steal four or more bases in a game.

(two steals), , and accounted for the other thefts for a team that leads the American League with 69 steals.

“There's certain teams, that's their DNA and that's how they're going to play,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “Obviously, the Red Sox have a number of fast players, and that's how they play the game right now.”

At least initially, the Yankees looked poised to withstand Boston’s fast-break offense. In fact, Boone’s squad looked like they were going to come up with one of those momentum surges that the game’s most storied rivalry has been known for.

But thanks to underrated righty reliever , who came on with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh and his team clinging to a one-run lead, there would be no comeback for the Yankees.

Kelly (1.88 ERA) had no margin for error and he didn’t give an inch, not even after falling behind to Gleyber Torres – the first batter he faced – 3-0. In a stirring sequence, Kelly came back with a four-seamer and a cutter for called strikes, and got Torres to swing and miss at a sweeper in the dirt.

He followed that clutch out by striking out catcher Jose Trevino (the victim of all nine Boston steals) on three pitches and getting DJ LeMahieu on a flyout to center as the Fenway crowd roared through the seventh-inning stretch.

Can you say adrenaline rush?

“As high as it’s probably ever been, honestly,” Kelly said of his adrenaline during that sequence. “But those are the situations you dream about. Those are the ones you want to come into. Bases loaded, you kind of show what you’re made of. Fortunately it went my way.”

If the fans were screaming at maximum decibel levels, Duran might have matched them while cheering on Kelly.

“I almost lost my voice in left field,” Duran said.

After Kelly’s Houdini act, the Sox put on their track shoes again, stealing three more bases to go into the club’s history book. The previous record of eight took place on Sept 29, 1940, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics.

“I had no idea,” Duran said. “I didn't know about the record until they put it up on the big screen. I was like, ‘Oh wow, we set a record.’ But records are meant to be broken. So I'm sure ours will be broken eventually. So it doesn't really mean much, but we're gonna keep doing our thing.”

Six of the nine steals came in the first five innings, as Boston broke out to a 4-1 lead.

“I was telling [hitting coach] Pete [Fatse] when Trevino goes deep that there’s nothing better than a home run in this game,” Cora said. “We did all that stuff [on the bases] and it was a 4-2 game. Their big boys are coming. [Alex] Verdugo puts the ball in play. [Giancarlo] Stanton does the same thing. We don’t make a play and it’s bases loaded [next inning] with no outs, and Zack was amazing.”

On Sunday, that thing, as Duran put it, was electrifying to watch.

“That was fun,” Hamilton said. “Probably the loudest baseball atmosphere I've been a part of, and it was a good experience.”

Not to mention a historic one.