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The Yankees’ Opening Day comeback win over the Red Sox in 1950

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The Yankees looked dead and buried in the first game of the 1950 season. They were not.

MLB: New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the final two games of the regular season in 1949, the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by one game. They won those final two games, overtaking Boston to win the American League. On April 18, 1950, the Yankees and Red Sox opened the season against each other. What happened in that Opening Day game just continued the trend of inflicting agonizing defeat on the Red Sox.

After the Yankees went down in order in the top of the first, Allie Reynolds took the mound as the Opening Day starter. He gave up four hits to the first four hitters he faced, and exited the first inning trailing 3-0.

The Yankees wasted a lead-off triple by Joe DiMaggio in the second, and Boston picked up another run in the bottom half of the inning. Reynolds put another two runners on in the third, but escaped that inning without allowing any more runs.

The Yankees went down in order in the top of the fourth, and Reynolds was brought back out to pitch the bottom of the inning. After allowing a single, a walk, a double, and a single, allowing two more runs, Reynolds was pulled. Fred Sandford came in for him and allowed three more runs to score. That put the Yankees in a 9-0 hole. Reynolds allowed seven runs on 10 hits and four walks. He finished opening day with an ERA of 21.00.

Through five innings, Red Sox starting pitcher Mel Parnell had allowed just one hit. He didn’t appear to need it much, but he had gotten nine runs of support. He and the Red Sox looked to be cruising to an opening day win.

In the top of the sixth, the Yankees started to chip away at their deficit. Tommy Heinrich led off the top of the sixth with a triple. At that point, the Yankees had two hits, and both were triples. Hank Bauer followed up with a single, plating the Yankees’ first run. After DiMaggio flew out, Yogi Berra was hit by a pitch. Billy Johnson and Johnny Lindell then both came up with RBI hits. Parnell got out of the inning after that, but the Yankees were now down only five instead of nine.

In the bottom of the seventh, Boston picked up an insurance run. In his second inning of work, Yankees’ reliever Don Johnson loaded the bases on two walks and a single. With two outs in the inning, he faced Billy Goodman. Johnson walked his third batter of the inning. A run scored, and the Red Sox lead was back up to six runs.

Berra got things started in the eighth inning with a single. After a walk and a fly out, Billy Martin scored Berra with a double. A pinch hitting Johnny Mize then brought home another two runs with a double. With their lead down to three runs, the Red Sox took Parnell out of the game.

Walt Masterson came in for Boston and quickly got a fly out. However, Heinrich followed that with his second triple of the game, scoring another run. A wild pitch scored Heinrich, and it was now a one-run game. After allowing a walk and a single, Masterson was taken out after pitching just 0.1 inning.

Earl Johnson was brought in, but that didn’t go much better for the Red Sox. Johnson allowed a single to Berra, loading the bases. He was promptly taken out after facing one batter. Al Papai was tasked with getting out the bases loaded jam needing just one out. Billy Johnson singled off Papai, scoring two runs, and suddenly giving the Yankees the lead.

Papai allowed a walk and another run-scoring single and was also taken out. Charley Schanz got Jim Delsing to ground out to finally end the top of the eighth. By the time the inning ended, the Yankees led 13-10. They had scored nine runs in the eighth, during which the Red Sox used five different pitchers, two of which recorded zero outs.

Joe Page threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Yankees, who then tacked on two runs in the top of the ninth. Page got the heart of the Red Sox order to go down in order in the bottom of the ninth, and the Yankees started off the 1950 season with a win.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees win expectancy was less than 1%. The 1950 season began like how the 1949 season ended, with the Red Sox blowing a lead to the Yankees in spectacular fashion.

Sources

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS195004180.shtml

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/NYY/1949-schedule-scores.shtml