BOSTON -- As Kiké Hernández pulled into second base late Thursday night after delivering the biggest hit of his first season with the Red Sox, he pumped his fist repeatedly, shouted with excitement and took in the roars from a packed house of 34,761 at Fenway Park.
Over these couple of months, since Fenway opened back to full capacity, Hernández thought he had learned the meaning of loud.
But aside from October, Fenway never reaches the decibel level of a thrilling comeback against the Yankees. And this 5-4, 10-inning win in the opener of a four-game series between the rivals would not have been possible without Hernández.
“It was pretty cool,” said Hernández. “That’s the first time I’ve done something offensively for the crowd to get that pumped up. Definitely as loud as I’ve heard Fenway this year. The crowd was into it. Of course, they don’t like those guys. But it was nice to do something to help the team.”
Without question, Hernández's game-tying two-run double to the gap in left-center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth was the biggest hit of Boston’s 30th comeback win, which is tied with the Rays for most in the Majors this season.
The American League East standings are not tied thanks to this memorable victory, which kept the Sox a game ahead of Tampa Bay and eight in front of the Yankees.
“It’s huge. It took us a while to score some runs, to put ABs together, and that’s why you play until the last out is made,” said Hernández. “Pitching did a great job keeping us in the game. We left some runners on base, and it was just a matter of getting that big hit. Really good win. It kept us in first place, too, by ourselves, so that’s good.”
Hernández, who has eight RBIs in his past three games, got ahead in the count 1-0 against Yankees reliever Chad Green before turning on a 96.2 mph heater and scorching it 104.2 mph.
“You go up the gap and then you start pointing at him, like look at him fly. That was amazing,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He can do all that stuff. He got a good primary lead. As soon as the ball was hit in the gap, we knew he was going to score. The energy he brings on a daily basis, it's been fun, and he'll be ready to [start] tomorrow.”
After muscling their way to a pair of wins in Buffalo, N.Y., over the Blue Jays, the Red Sox sputtered offensively for the first seven innings on Thursday before turning the tables just in time.
“Got a fastball over the heart of the plate, and I was able to stay short, get the head out,” said Hernández. “And if we were in Buffalo, it probably would’ve ended the game. But it just tied it tonight.”
The Yankees briefly untied the game in the top of the 10th inning as the automatic runner, Tyler Wade, advanced to third on a soft grounder and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner.
Red Sox closer Matt Barnes, who wound up with the win, made sure things didn’t escalate any further from there.
It turned out that in the bottom of the 10th, the Yankees basically gift-wrapped the win for Boston. Making his 11th career appearance, Yankees righty Brooks Kriske uncorked four wild pitches -- the most by one pitcher in a single extra inning in MLB history (and tied for the most in any inning).
Hunter Renfroe ended the festivities with a sacrifice fly to right, with Bogaerts scoring easily with the winning run.
The lasting image from this win will be the clutch knock by Hernández.
“That was cool, because it's his biggest hit so far here,” said Cora. “I know the leadoff home runs he’s hit and all that stuff. But packed house, loud place, the music was great, just the moment [was great]. It was a fun atmosphere. It's not a Friday night at Fenway, but it was a great Thursday night.”