BOSTON -- The Red Sox were punchless for seven innings on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. But when they punched back, they flattened the Yankees with a furious five-run rally in the bottom of the eighth en route to a thrilling 5-4 victory that gave them three out of four in the latest rivalry series.
That epic bottom of the eighth by Boston topped what the Yankees did on Saturday, when they came back from 3-0 down with two outs in the top of the eighth to score a 4-3 win.
The Sox were down, 4-0, and didn't even have a hit through the first seven innings against Yankees righty Domingo Germán.
Then out of nowhere came a five-hit, five-run surge that none of the 32,009 in attendance will soon forget.
"We never quit," said lefty Martín Pérez, who kept his team in it, allowing three runs over six innings. "That's what I've been saying all year. The game is not over until they make the 27 outs. It was a fun game and I hope the fans enjoyed that game."
Of the Sox's MLB-leading 32 comeback wins this season -- 11 of which they've trailed after five innings -- the consensus is that this one was the best.
"Huge," said Kiké Hernández, who yet again clutched up when the Red Sox needed it most. "One of the biggest comebacks of the year, if not the biggest. It was huge."
The victory allowed the Red Sox to go back into sole possession of first place in the American League East by a game over the Rays. The Yankees, meanwhile, are nine back after losing a series they really couldn't afford to.
"That was one of the crazier comebacks I've been a part of," added Alex Verdugo.
The beauty of this one is that it came out of nowhere.
Here is some context from seven consecutive productive plate appearances from what could wind up as the most memorable half-inning of the season for Boston.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 0 -- Verdugo at the plate
Win probability (according to Statcast): 3.5 percent
Outcome: To open that furious frame, Verdugo hammered a 1-1 curveball from Germán for a double off the home bullpen in right-center, the first hit of the day for the Red Sox. The emotional Verdugo raised both of his arms and clapped.
"Just jump-started it," said Verdugo. "Getting that hit out of the way, just had everybody take that big deep breath. Just that exhale, don't have to worry about getting no-hit [anymore]. Obviously that inning was crazy and the guys following me doing a really good job not getting too big and following suit."
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 0 -- Hunter Renfroe at the plate, Verdugo on second, no outs
Win probability: 7.4 percent
Outcome: Renfroe continues to come up with important hits for the Red Sox. This one was a double into the left-field corner in which Verdugo roared home with the first run of the day for the Red Sox. You could hear the excitement start to build at Fenway. Coming into the at-bat, Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga had only given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season.
"Hunter against Loaisiga, really tough on righties, somehow was able to get the barrel to that ball. I don't even know how," said Hernández.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 -- Christian Vázquez at the plate, Renfroe on second, no outs
Win probability: 14.2 percent
Outcome: Vázquez dumped a 67.9 mph bloop into short right, which plopped down on an open patch of grass after traveling just 214 feet. It was poetic justice for the Red Sox, who had watched countless bloops fall in by Yankees hitters on Saturday and Sunday. The RBI single was starting to make a comeback feel possible.
"I remember going in the dugout [after scoring] and yelling at the boys, 'Let's go! We got this! Keep going! Keep going!'" Verdugo said.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2 -- Franchy Cordero at the plate, Vázquez on first, no outs
Win probability: 23 percent
Outcome: Cordero, who was called up on Thursday, hadn't had a hit in the Majors since May 23, when he hit a mammoth home run in Philadelphia. This time, he did exactly what he needed to, smashing a 105.8 mph single up the middle to keep the line moving.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2 -- Hernández at the plate. Cordero on first, Vázquez on second, no outs
Win probability: 35 percent
Outcome: It was Hernández who had a huge hit in Thursday night's comeback, unloading for a game-tying, two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a game the Sox won in 10 innings. Was it fair to ask him to clutch up again in the series finale? No problem, he said. Once again, it was Hernández who probably had the biggest hit of the game, driving an RBI double into the corner in left. As Yankees manager Aaron Boone came out to get Loaisiga, Fenway was turning into a madhouse. That was five hits in a row for the Red Sox to start the inning after not getting one in the first seven innings.
Interestingly, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told Hernández to bunt right before he went to the plate. When Hernández stepped in, he noticed the Yankees now had the corners in. Cora made eye contact with him and told him to swing the bat. Hernández caught up to a 98.5 mph sinker and drilled it.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3 -- Pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki at the plate, Hernández on second, Cordero on third, no outs
Win probability: 68.2 percent
Outcome: When Boone went to lefty Zack Britton, Cora countered by having the right-handed-hitting Plawecki hit for rookie Jarren Duran. Give Plawecki credited for staying within himself and chipping a grounder to shortstop that allowed the tying run to score. It was interesting that the Yankees were playing back.
"Plawecki did a great job doing his job. Infield back, he hit a ground ball to short, got him in, got him over," said Hernández.
Situation: Yankees 4, Red Sox 4 -- Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Hernández on third, one out
Win probability: 74.4 percent.
Outcome: Bogaerts lofted a lazy fly ball into medium-depth right field, traveling 266 feet before landing in the glove of Greg Allen. Red Sox third-base coach Carlos Febles was aggressive on that type of fly ball the entire series, and he had the right guy running in Hernández to take a chance with. Hernández roared home and the Red Sox had the lead. The win probability had spiked all the way up to 84.9 percent and would finally reach 100 when Matt Barnes closed it out with a save in the ninth.
"That's Carlos," said Cora. "He does an amazing job, and [Hernández] is a good baserunner, too. Seems like [Allen] was a little flat-footed, too. So, we did it a few times early in the series, so why not there?"
When the inning started, could anyone have seen this madness coming? How was the mood in the dugout?
"Not great, to be honest with you," said Cora. "Whoever says that we were a hit away or a baserunner away from getting this going, maybe Alex will say it, but I didn't sense that. I sensed a lot of frustrated people. [Germán] was amazing. That's the best I've seen him. He was under control. One pitch to Alex changed the whole thing."