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Boston's Top 10 games of the decade

@IanMBrowne
December 2, 2019

The 2010s were a decade that brought joy to the Red Sox and their fans. Two more World Series flags were waved. A legend named David Ortiz completed his career with yet more heroics. New stars like Mookie Betts came along. It set the stage for many memorable games. Here

The 2010s were a decade that brought joy to the Red Sox and their fans. Two more World Series flags were waved. A legend named David Ortiz completed his career with yet more heroics. New stars like Mookie Betts came along.

It set the stage for many memorable games. Here are 10 that stand out above the rest.

1. Papi slam saves Sox
Date: Oct. 13, 2013

It wasn’t looking good for the Red Sox. Stifled 1-0 by the Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS, Boston trailed 5-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Not only that, but the Tigers had ace Justin Verlander lined up for Game 3 in Detroit. Ortiz put on his cape and came up with one of the biggest homers in club history, a game-tying grand slam against Joaquin Benoit. Jarrod Saltalamacchia slammed a walk-off single to left against Rick Porcello in the bottom of the ninth, and the Red Sox reversed the momentum of the series with one huge 6-5 win. Boston went on to win the ALCS in six games.

2. Benny’s glove ends thriller
Date: Oct. 17, 2018

This was a pulsating Game 4 of the ALCS from start to finish. In the bottom of the first, José Altuve thought he had a game-tying homer to right field against Betts. Instead, Altuve was called out when the umpires ruled that fan interference had prevented a leaping Betts the chance to catch the ball.

The contest swayed back and forth all night when the Astros looked ready to stage a thrilling comeback against Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Alex Bregman stung a liner to left that looked sure to tie the game. But Andrew Benintendi made a five-star catch, according to Statcast, and one of the most clutch in Red Sox history. It gave Boston an 8-6 win and a 3-1 series lead, and the Sox clinched a trip to the World Series the next night.

3. In pinch, Moreland puts Sox on verge of title
Date: Oct. 27, 2018

Forgive the Red Sox if they were exhausted at the start of Game 4 of the World Series after a historic, 18-inning loss the day before. Rich Hill’s curveball was exhausting them even more. The Dodgers were up 4-0 and looked primed to tie the World Series. But when manager Dave Roberts lifted Hill, everything changed. Mitch Moreland walloped a three-run, pinch-hit homer with two outs in the seventh. Steve Pearce, en route to World Series MVP, went deep in the eighth against Kenley Jansen to tie it.

The Sox erupted for five in the ninth and came away with a 9-6 victory that put them a win away from winning it all, which they did the next night. Another key memory from the game was a dugout tirade by Red Sox ace Chris Sale urging his offense to step up.

4. Papi’s speech, Gomes’ blast help tie Fall Classic
Date: Oct. 27, 2013

What is it about Oct. 27 in Red Sox history? That was the date in 2004 they snapped an 86-year title drought. In 2018, it was the epic comeback in Game 4 against the Dodgers. And in ‘13, it was the date the Sox seemed in danger of falling into a 3-1 deficit to the Cardinals in the World Series. With the Sox down 2-1 entering the top of the fifth of Game 4, Ortiz pulled the team together in the dugout and implored them not to squander the precious opportunity of winning the World Series.

Ortiz then ripped a double and scored the tying run that inning. And Jonny Gomes -- only in the starting lineup due to an injury to Shane Victorino -- unloaded for a three-run homer in the sixth. Boston won 4-2 and didn’t lose another game of that World Series.

5. Red Sox are 'Boston Strong'
Date: April 20, 2013

Ortiz was already a Boston legend when he took the microphone prior to a Saturday home game that came amid circumstances unlike any other in Red Sox history. But he took his impact in the community to another level on this day. Five days earlier, bombs at the Boston Marathon led to fatalities. And just one day earlier, large parts of the city were locked down as police went on a manhunt for the suspects.

This was the first game at Fenway since the tragic bombings and Ortiz gave an impassioned speech in which he told Bostonians, “This is our [expletive] city and nobody is going to dictate our freedom.” The crowd went wild then, and it did so again when Daniel Nava smashed a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that lifted Boston to a 4-3 win over the Royals.

6. Vazquez finishes ‘Game of Year'
Date: Aug. 1, 2017

In what many considered to be the best MLB game of the 2017 regular season, Christian Vazquez hit a towering, three-run walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Sox a wild, 12-10 victory over the Indians. The game also included the catch of the year in baseball, as Austin Jackson jumped into Boston’s bullpen to take a homer away from Hanley Ramirez. The Indians took a 5-0 lead on Chris Sale in the top of the second and the Sox stormed back with five in the bottom of the second. There would be more wild swings in momentum before Vazquez stopped the madness with his shot against Cody Allen.

7. Pedroia wrecks Rockies
Date: June 24, 2010

The wildness of Coors Field was on full display on this night in 2010. Dustin Pedroia hit three homers in a 13-11 Sox win. Pedroia’s final homer was a two-run shot that snapped a tie in the top of the 10th, just after closer Jonathan Papelbon had allowed the Rockies to score two in the bottom of the ninth to force the game into extras. It was a game the Sox led, 6-2, only to get stunned when the Rockies scored six in the bottom of the sixth. Pedroia’s two-run shot in the eighth put Boston back in front.

In perhaps the finest game of Pedroia’s impressive career, the second baseman went 5-for-5, scored four times and drove in five runs. The next night, Pedroia broke his left foot in San Francisco, effectively ending Boston’s postseason hopes in the process.

8. Hanley drops hammer on Yankees
Date: Sept. 15, 2016

In the opener of a four-game rivalry showdown at Fenway in the heart of the pennant race, the Red Sox were down 5-1 after seven. Ortiz brought some life back to the ballpark when he smashed a solo shot to center in the eighth. But the Red Sox still had a big hill to climb in the bottom of the ninth. By the time Ramirez stepped to the plate with two outs, Boston was down 5-4. Ramirez then tattooed a majestic shot to center off of Dellin Betances for a three-run, walk-off shot in the 7-5 triumph. The Sox wound up sweeping the series and went on to win the division.

9. The Darnell McDonald game
Date: April 20, 2010

Not many Red Sox fans had even heard of Darnell McDonald when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with Boston down by two, after trailing 6-1 earlier in the game. McDonald, a veteran Minor Leaguer, wasn’t even on the 40-man roster when the day started. But injuries led the Sox to purchase McDonald’s contract that day. He then roped a game-tying, pinch-hit, two-run homer to center. And in the ninth, he came through with a two-out, walk-off single off the Monster for a 7-6 win over the Rangers.

10. Benny bleeder highlights 108-win season
Date: Aug. 5, 2018

The Red Sox were in the midst of a joyride of a season in which they would set a franchise record with 108 wins. You can make the case that this was the most memorable of all, considering who it was against and the circumstances that led to it. Already, the Sox had won the first three games of the four-game series. One night it was Pearce belting three homers. The next it was Porcello firing a one-hitter. Then there was Nathan Eovaldi with a spectacular debut for the Sox.

In the Sunday night finale, the Yankees were up, 4-1, in the bottom of the ninth and had their flame-throwing closer, Aroldis Chapman, on the mound. With two on and two outs, J.D. Martinez set off roars at Fenway by smacking a two-run single to get the Sox within a run. Xander Bogaerts came up next and hit a grounder to third that should have ended the game. But Miguel Andujar’s throw sailed wide and Greg Bird couldn’t corral it, so Jackie Bradley Jr. roared home from second to tie the game. In the 10th, Benintendi set off bedlam at Fenway with a three-hop single up the middle for a walk-off, 5-4 win.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.