Game 4: BOS vs. NYY — The game that just wouldn’t end

Well, it was officially the longest game I’ve ever watched. Coming in at 6 hours and 49 minutes, plus a 16 minute “light delay”, with 19 innings played, it was ruled the longest Red Sox-Yankees game ever. And because it was a night game, it really seemed to go on forever, like until 2 am kind of forever. And then they all go home, only to turn around and come back for a 1:05 game on Saturday. I sense a ton of overly caffeinated players and stadium employees at tomorrow’s game (or rather, later today).

Anyway, things started off fairly normal. Yankees long-time radio broadcaster John Sterling lost his apartment and all his possessions in a terrible fire in January. Included in the items lost are the 12 local Emmy awards he won. Tonight, Sterling was recognized and presented with official reproductions of those awards. Sterling is finally getting back to normal, moving into a new apartment this May and finally replaced most of the replaceable items, but personal items like photographs and book and music collections are rather irreplaceable and relegated to one’s memories. Normal after a loss is often just moving on and finding a new normal rather than replacing and replicating what was. Best wishes to him in the continued discovery of the new normal.

And then there was a game, which was fairly normal for the first nine innings. Nathan Eovaldi started the game, his first start with the Yankees. Overall, Eovaldi threw 94 pitches over 5.1 innings, gave up 8 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, and 1 strikeout. The first run came in the 1st inning — with 2 outs and 2 runners on, Eovaldi got himself into a bit of an early scruff with an RBI single that scored a runner. The Red Sox maintained that lead for the next few innings when neither Eovaldi (who was pitching easily in the upper-90s, capping out at 101 mph a few times) nor the defense allowed the Sox to do much more than that. But in the 6th, the Sox found a hole again — with 1 out, a single, a walk, and a wild pitch put runners in scoring position to both score on a single.

I do want to recognize one particular part of the Yankees defense — Stephen Drew. Drew, who began the game at shortstop and then moved to 2nd when Gregorius came in to replace Petit, was really just outstanding all over the middle infield. At times, he seemed to just grab balls out of the air. And basically, no matter what got near him, he was able to turn it into an out and keep the Sox off the bases as much as possible.

The Yankees turned to reliever Chris Martin, who despite a fielding error by Petit and a walk to load the bases got those 2 outs and ended the inning to keep the Red Sox to just a 3 run lead. This mattered because the Yankees came back in the bottom of the 6th and sliced that lead down. Petit walked, Ellsbury singled, and Gardner hit into a force out (Ellsbury out at 2nd, runners at the corners). Alex Rodriguez’s single scored Petit. Teixeira walked to load the bases, and despite a pitching change, Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly (which was way deep onto the warning track in right field) scored Gardner, making the score 3-2 Red Sox.

And there they would sit. Relievers Wilson and Betances split the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings to keep the Sox from adding to their lead further. This, of course, proved good for the Yankees who went into the 9th inning hoping for something amazing. Down a quick 2 outs, it would be Chase Headley’s solo home run into the 2nd deck of the right field seats that would tie up the game and start the tailspin that would be the extra innings of this game.

Then it became a pitchers game — relievers Miller and Carpenter kept the momentum going in the 10th and 11th innings, respectively, before the Yankees handed the ball to Chasen Shreve. Shreve didn’t know it as he took the mound in the 12th, but he would pitch 56 total pitches over 3.1 innings, giving up just 3 hits and striking out 4 Boston batters. A truly excellent outing for Shreve, one of the best I’ve seen from him over the past few months.

A funny thing happened in the bottom of the 12th inning. Carlos Beltran stepped into the batter’s box to begin the half-inning, the pitch is thrown, and suddenly — a power surge. An entire section of stadium lights turned off (the third of them that run behind home plate (over the Audi Club and press box and center section of the seats, if you’ve ever been to the stadium). Time was called, and the umpires went to try to see how to fix the problem and how long it would take. Though most people didn’t see a big difference, policy (as created for the safety of the players) mandated a delay to reset the lights. In the 16 minute light delay, the remaining fans tried to help the situation by switching on their phones’ flashlights. It was quite the sight, almost like a music concert, for a few minutes.

And then play resumed. And midnight passed. And Mark Teixeira went from a 34-year-old player to being 35 years old. (Happy Birthday, Tex!) And with Shreve tiring in the 15th, the Yankees went to Esmil Rogers to just close out the game, however long it may be.

With both teams relying on the absolutely last available reliever in their bullpen, it meant an all out battle starting in the 16th inning. The Red Sox drew blood first with a big solo home run, but the Yankees answered back with Teixeira’s own solo home run (saying yes, 35 year olds can still play big baseball and be awesome). And then in the 18th, the Sox got runners on the corners with a hit by pitch and a single and then scored a run on a single. The Yankees responded with their own collection of hits to tie up the game — McCann doubled, replaced by pinch-runner Murphy, ended up at 3rd on a ground out, and then scored easily on Beltran’s double.

The game was still very much alive and kicking going into the 19th inning. Boston again collectively scored a run — a single, a stolen base, a walk, a passed ball, and a sacrifice fly. And after 81 pitches, 4.2 innings, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts, the talk was as to who could possibly replace Rogers if the game went into 20 innings. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective and desperate need for sleep at this point of the evening), that question never needed to materialize. The Yankees were very quickly out of the game in the bottom of the 19th inning, losing to the Red Sox 6-5.

The game was over; the lingering faithful fans (of both sides) were more than willing to vacate their seats and meander on home; the stadium employees and players and coaches and press and everyone else scheduled to be back at the stadium in just a few hours were already planning what kind of caffeine would be necessary to get them through what will be a long Saturday; and thousands of TVs finally clicking off as people dragged themselves to bed.

It was over. Sleep won out. All too soon it would be back to the ballpark for game 2 against the Red Sox. Now, where is my coffee?

Go Yankees!

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