Red Sox set franchise-record 9 stolen bases, steal series from Yankees

When the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees last met at Fenway Park in mid-September 2023, seats for the rain-soaked four-game double-doubleheader disaster could be had for as low as a dollar plus fees.

On Sunday night, the tickets were still more affordable than they should be for baseball’s greatest rivalry, but the place was sold out. For the second game in a row, no less.

It had all the makings of a rivalry classic. In front of a packed house, the underdog Red Sox overcame an early deficit, escaped their own jams like a squad of Harry Houdinis, and defeated the Yankees 9-3 to take the series and improve to two games over .500.

For good measure, the Red Sox set a franchise record, stealing nine bases in the game. Their previous mark hadn’t been matched since Sept. 29, 1940, when Ted Williams was in his second big-league season and the Athletics, whom they faced that day, were still in Philadelphia. The Sox also tied the second-most bases ever stolen against the Yankees, last achieved by the Tigers in Detroit on May 19, 1915.

It was a much quieter affair in the early frames, before erupting into utter chaos; the best Red Sox-Yankees games always do. Kutter Crawford stymied the Bronx Bombers for most of his six innings, including setting them down in order between innings 2-5. Crawford held one of the league’s most potent offenses to three earned runs on three hits, one walk, and striking out nine. The exceptions were a two-out solo homer by Aaron Judge, which got the Yankees on the board in the top of the first, a leadoff homer over the Monster by Jose Trevino in the sixth with a solo shot of his own, and a single by Anthony Volpe, who would score on a wild pitch to bring the Yankees within one.

But the Red Sox have been fighting back more of late, and did so in aggressive fashion on Sunday night, battling back from an immediate 1-0 deficit to score four unanswered runs over the first five innings, and finish the night with nine runs on 14 hits and six walks.

When the usually unhittable Brennan Bernardino relieved Crawford and immediately loaded the bases – on a pair of singles and an error by first baseman Dom Smith – Zack Kelly came in and delivered.

“Higher than it’s probably ever been, honestly,” Kelly said of his adrenaline entering that situation. “But those are the situations you dream about, those are the ones you want to come into. It’s like, bases loaded, it’s kind of, show what you’re made of.”

The righty reliever got Gleyber Torres and Trevino swinging, then had DJ LeMahieu line out to center. The performance elicited roars from the Fenway Faithful, as well as his teammates, who described it as game-saving.

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

“That was awesome,” said David Hamilton. “That’s probably the reason we won the game right there. That was, a lot of momentum shifted towards our side after that.”

“Like I always say, we’re gonna battle, we’re gonna make mistakes, and we’re gonna win games,” Alex Cora said. “But that was good baseball tonight. Expect that from us. We’re gonna push the envelope. We have a bunch of athletes, and it just happens that the three of them are getting on base.”

By the end of the fifth, the Red Sox had already blown past their previous season-high of four stolen bases, racking up six. Hamilton led the way with four, including the record-breaking swipe, followed by Duran (2), and one apiece from Dom Smith, Ceddanne Rafaela, and Bobby Dalbec.

The Red Sox are only the ninth team to steal as many as nine bases in a game since the start of the Live Ball Era in 1920, and now lead the American League with 69. Hamilton became the third player in franchise history to steal at least four bases in a game, following in Jacoby Ellsbury’s and Jerry Remy’s footsteps. His third swipe tied Duran for the team record, and his fourth put him on top.

This homestand was Boston’s toughest test at this point in the season, and facing the best NL and AL teams, they won both series.

And while the rivalry between these two storied franchises may never again be what it once was – no Boston fan wants to rebuild that animosity over another 86-year drought, right? – if you take one thing away from this weekend, let it be this: A good Red Sox team facing a good Yankees team draws a crowd; the kind of loud, passionate, electric audience this marquee franchise and its historic ballpark should have every season, all season long.

“It was fun, probably the loudest baseball atmosphere I’ve been a part of,” Hamilton said.

“Tonight was awesome,” Crawford said. “Fenway was great. The fans were great. They were in it from the first pitch to the last.”

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