Red Sox, Yanks take rivalry to next level
NEW YORK -- In the winners' clubhouse, it was eerily quiet. No music. No celebration. Actually, there had been a brief celebration on the field when it finally ended, all six hours and 49 minutes of it.
The Red Sox ran toward the middle of the diamond and hugged one another after beating the Yankees, 6-5, in 19 innings in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Pablo Sandoval threw his arms up and looked toward the sky.
That was about it. Once inside the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, there seemed to be a realization that they were exhausted.
"I think it'll probably hit me tomorrow," Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts said.
Sometimes, mere games become more than that. Sometimes, they become a test of wills. That's what happened to Boston and New York on Friday night. At some point, it felt more like a great heavyweight fight than a mere game.
"This was a test of endurance, no doubt," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
One side punched, then the other punched back. This happened again and again. The longer it lasted, the higher the stakes.
And on and on they played. Third baseman Chase Headley saved the Yanks with a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Boston took the lead back in the top of the 16th inning with a David Ortiz homer. Mark Teixeira tied it in the bottom of the inning with another home run.
In the 18th, same thing. Red Sox score in the top of the inning, Yankees answer in the bottom. Finally, Boston did win it in the 19th.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts scored the winning run on Betts' sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the inning, Bogaerts and second baseman Dustin Pedroia turned a nice game-ending double play at a few minutes after 2 a.m. Saturday.
"Game 3 starts in about an hour," Farrell said.
This was a game that reminded us why we love this stuff. You never know when a regular baseball game is going to become something magical. At least, this one was magical for the Red Sox. Down the hallway in the home clubhouse, they were taking comfort in how they kept fighting back.
"We showed a lot of heart tonight," Yanks left fielder Brett Gardner said. "We didn't win, but we played hard, we played long. We'll try and get some rest and come back out here and even the series later today, I guess -- we're well into today."
Did we mention the 16-minute delay? That happened in the bottom of the 12th inning when a power surge caused several lights inside the stadium to go dark.
Oh, and there's Teixeira. He was 34 years old when the game started, 35 when it ended. Happy birthday, Tex.
It was the longest game -- six hours, 49 minutes -- in Red Sox history and the longest home game the Yankees have played.
In both clubhouses, they struggled for the right words to describe what they'd just done. When Farrell was asked about this player or that one, he deferred to the larger thing.
"I think it's unjust to single out any one guy," he said. "It was a team win, no doubt."
Each team used 21 players. The Red Sox used nine pitchers, the Yanks eight. Those 17 pitchers combined to throw 628 pitches.
Hats off to umpire Marty Foster, who was behind the plate for all 628 of those pitches and all six hours, 49 minutes of the game.
Here's to New York catcher Brian McCann, who caught every pitch for the first 18 innings before being pulled for a pinch-runner in the bottom of the inning. Meanwhile, Boston starting catcher Sandy Leon exited after 14 innings.
Both teams had heroes here and there. Knuckleballer Steven Wright, just bumped from the Red Sox's rotation for the return of Joe Kelly on Saturday, pitched the final five innings, the last of the nine pitchers.
Wright twice surrendered leads, but who cares?
"I was definitely frustrated with blowing the leads," he said, "but you still have to compete. The guys have been out there a lot longer than me. I wanted to gather myself and keep going back to the knuckleball and firing it in there."
The Yankees got some work like that. Chasen Shreve and Esmil Rogers combined to pitch the final eight innings.
The Red Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 20 runners on base. The Yankees went 2-for-12 and left 13 men on.
Boston seemed on the verge of winning time and again. For instance, the Red Sox took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth and a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth. And they had leads in the 16th, 18th and 19th.
Finally, they closed it out.
"To win one like this makes it so much better," Betts said. "Losing would have been tough to swallow."