The victory — snatched from the jaws of defeat — is welcome after the recent chapter of ignominy against the Yankees, which saw New York win 14 of 17 meetings against Boston.
Thanks to a Joba Chamberlain implosion in the eighth inning, the Sox came up with four runs to tie things at 5 with the tying run coming on David Ortiz's single that barely missed being a home run. Don't look now, but Big Papi's average is now up to .248 after a 2-for-3 night that included a walk.
While Josh Beckett left the game in the fifth with back tightness, the bullpen came up big, only allowing a run in the ninth as Jonathan Papelbon had everyone on the edge of their seats before he blew away Randy Winn to seal the game.
Perhaps the Red Sox will embark on their own winning streak against the Yankees. After all, that seems to be the trend lately.
To begin 2009, the Red Sox roared out with eight straight victories over the Bronx Bombers, causing panic to flood the streets of New York. Red Sox hitters cranked 13 home runs and ran amok on the bases with a .405 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, the Bombers must have left their lumber at home as they only got on base 35 percent of the time, while their pitching acted as gasoline on fire with a 6.07 ERA.
But then something changed.
Entering Tuesday's game, the Yankees had battered the Red Sox 14 times over the last 17 meetings. In this time period, Boston pitchers had an unsightly 6.98 ERA, while hitters had a measly .247 batting average and scant .412 slugging percentage.
Over the same time period, Yankee pitchers answered the bell with a 4.30 cumulative ERA against Boston, while the offense jacked 33 home runs for a .534 slugging percentage. The Yankees had a total batting average of .316 against Red Sox pitching.
While the Red Sox aren't out of the woods just yet when it comes to the Yankees, the fact they were able to nab this victory against long odds — and in the middle of a disappointing stretch of games, not to mention budding clubhouse drama — makes this a moral victory as well as a literal one.
Engineering a late comeback against the fearsome duo of Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera is, frankly, nothing short of impressive — even if it's only one game.
"This team is never giving up," said Jeremy Hermida, who delivered a two-run double off Rivera in the ninth. "We're fighting for the last out, and it showed."
No one's saying there aren't things to be concerned about with the Red Sox. The team has struggled to stay over .500 and we're a fourth of the way into the season. Controversy seems to swirl around this team like it hasn't in years. But these things have a funny way of working out.
The Yankees started 2009 with a 15-17 record before ending up with 103 and a World Series title. The Angels started 25-25 and finished with 97 wins. The Twins were 57-62 before forcing Game 163, which they won. And the Rockies give the Red Sox hope. After their remarkable stretch run in 2007 propelled them to the World Series, Colorado nearly did it again in 2009. It went from 15 1/2 out with a 20-32 record to end up with 92 games in the win column and a wild-card berth.
The Red Sox have a long way to go if they hope to be playing in October, and one game — as moral a victory as it may be — isn't going to suddenly make all the questions disappear.
But the Red Sox and their fans didn't give up for 86 years.They're certainly not about to start now.