Friday's doubleheader was outsized in almost every way. The distance between the first pitch of game one and the final play of game two was nearly twelve hours, while the combined length of the two games was 8 hours and 41 minutes, with the nightcap setting a record as the longest nine-inning game in major league history. Combined the two teams scored 41 runs on 60 hits, 24 walks and five errors while 17 pitchers (including two appearances each from Mike Myers and Scott Proctor) threw 756 pitches.
The two games were so taxing that they prompted four roster moves, with the Red Sox designating Game 1 starting pitcher Jason Johnson for assignment in order to activate reliever Keith Foulke for Game 2, then designating for assignment Rudy Seanez--who, with his team already down 8-3, threw 43 pitches in the ninth inning of Game 1, allowing four runs on four walks, a pair of singles, and a ball lost in the sun by right fielder Eric Hinske--and calling up reliever Jermaine Van Buren for yesterday's Game 3.
The Yankees, meanwhile, designated for assignment Game 2 starter Sidney Ponson--who inflated his Yankee ERA to 10.47 by allowing seven runs, six earned, on nine hits in a mere three innings of work--and Brian Bruney--a last-minute pre-series addition to the bullpen who ate up 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 2, but threw 56 pitches in the process, rendering himself unavailable for Game 3 at the very least--and bringing up rookie Jeffrey Karstens, who had been considered as an alternate Game 2 starter, and wrongfully exiled lefty-hitting outfielder Aaron Guiel.
With their rosters somewhat replenished and just one game on the card, the Yanks and Sox hoped things could return to normal on Saturday afternoon. You know what they say about the best laid plans?
Things started typically enough. The Yankees loaded the bases against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett in the first inning on a Johnny Damon double and walks to Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi, but before those walks Derek Jeter foolishly bunted Damon to third. As a result, Alex Rodriguez's double-play ball to shortstop Alex Cora allowed the Red Sox to escape the inning unscathed.
After Randy Johnson retired the Red Sox on six pitches, the Yankees compensated for their discouraging first inning in the second with a two-out Bernie Williams solo homer around the Pesky Pole and another Damon double (his second two-bagger in as many innings and fifth extra-base hit of the series), which plated Melky Cabrera, who had walked and stolen second.
A double-play ball off the bat of Mike Lowell allowed Johnson to get away with another 1-2-3 inning in the second, and the Yanks added one more in the top of the third when an eight-pitch lead-off walk to Bobby Abreu (his second and Beckett's fourth of the game) came around to score after Abreu stole second and Cano singled him home with two outs.
Johnson and Beckett then exchanged 1-2-3 innings on a combined 19 pitches and the Red Sox roared back to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth when Manny Ramirez followed identical six-pitch walks to Mark Loretta and David Ortiz by crushing a Randy Johnson cement mixer onto the roof of a parking garage across Lansdowne Street. Ramirez's shot was followed by singles by Javy Lopez, Lowell and Wily Mo Pena, which made it 4-3 Sox before Gabe Kapler ended the inning with a double play.
Then things got crazy. The Yanks took the lead back in the next half inning when Abreu doubled, Giambi walked, Rodriguez doubled Abreu home and, after Robinson Cano was intentionally walked to load the bases, Jorge Posada hit into an RBI fielder's choice to plate Giambi. The Red Sox then tied it back up in the bottom of the inning when Cora, squaring to bunt, was hit on the left ring finger, Kevin Youkilis walked on four pitches (the ninth walk in the first five innings), Loretta bunted the runners to second and third, and David Ortiz hit a sac fly to plate Cora with the tying run, after which Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked for the third time in the series so that Johnson could pitch to Javy Lopez, who cooperated by flying out on the first pitch.
Thus in three half-innings the score had gone from 3-0 Yankees to 4-3 Red Sox to 5-4 Yankees to 5-5 Red Sox. I don't imagine I need to tell you what happened next. After Melky grounded out to start the top of the sixth, Johnny Damon hit his third double of the day, Derek Jeter drew the 11th walk of the game on four pitches, Bobby Abreu moved them up via a ground out, and Josh Beckett issued his eighth and ninth walks of the game to Giambi and Alex Rodriguez, the latter yet another four-pitch pass, loading the bases and forcing in the go-ahead run. That triggered Terry Francona's hook, but Manny Delcarmen merely picked up where Beckett left off, entering the game and walking Robinson Cano, yes Robinson Cano, on four pitches to push across another Yankee run. Jorge Posada then crushed a 3-1 pitch into the triangle in dead center for a bases-clearing triple (believe it or not, it was Posada's second triple of the year--Jorge also stole his second base of the season in the fifth with two outs and a runner on third).
That made it 10-5 Yankees, and so it would remain until the top of the eighth. With the just-promoted Jermain Van Buren--who that morning had to be retrieved from North Andover, where his minor league teams' bus had dropped him upon receiving word of his promotion on the way to a game in Ottawa--on the mound, Jason Giambi doubled, Alex Rodriguez drew (say it with me) a four-pitch walk, and Robinson Cano crushed a 3-1 pitch onto the black tarp covering the batters' eye portion of the bleacher seats beyond the triangle in center field to push the score to the eventual final of 13-5.
For his part, Randy Johnson lasted seven ugly, but effective innings, surviving six walks (one intentional) by allowing just four hits, with Ramirez's homer being the only one that went for extra bases. Taking advantage of his throw day, Joe Torre used Jaret Wright to pitch the eighth and had T.J. Beam mop up in the ninth. As a result, all of the key members of the Yankee bullpen got the day off. Save for Delcarmen, who threw 12 pitches as well as 28 on Friday, the Sox also rested their key relievers, with Van Buren and Kyle Snyder finishing things.
Meanwhile, the excess continued. Saturday's game lasted three hours and forty-one minutes. The Yankees have scored 39 runs in the first three games of this series. Never before had the Red Sox allowed a minimum of 12 runs in three consecutive games. There were 19 walks in Saturday's game, 13 of them by Red Sox pitching, nine of those by Beckett, the most by a Red Sox starter since 1975. Johnny Damon is now 9 for 18 with three doubles, a triple, two homers, five runs scored and 8 RBIs for the series. He is hitting .346/.382/.712 with four home runs against his former team this season.
Most importantly, yesterday's victory gave the Yankees the series win and swelled their lead in the East to 4.5 games, while the Red Sox have also fallen four games behind the White Sox in the Wild Card race. The Yankees are now guaranteed to leave Boston with a larger lead than they had prior to Friday's double header. If the Yankees can just split the remaining two games, they'll leave Boston with a lead greater than the number of games remaining between these two teams with just 38 games left in the season.