On September 28, 1923, the Yankees and Red Sox were in very different places. The Yankees had a very comfortable lead with just a few games left in the regular season while the Red Sox were solidly in last place. On that day, both teams would show exactly why they were in the positions they occupied.
Boston's starter that day was Howard Ehmke, who was essentially the team's ace. Going into the game, he had 3.39 ERA in 310.2 innings that season. However, the Yankees struck pretty quickly against Ehmke, scoring four runs in the top of the first.
In the third inning, the Yankees tacked on another run, making it 5-0. However in the fourth inning, the Red Sox offense showed some life. Yankees' starter Sad Sam Jones had thrown a no-hitter just a few weeks prior against the Philadelphia Athletics. The 1923 Red Sox averaged just three runs per game, but they managed three in the fourth inning off Jones.
The Yankees added a run in the fifth, making it 6-3. Six runs in five innings is not ideal, and probably wasn't what Ehmke was looking for. And then the sixth inning happened, which was definitely not what he wanted. The Yankees managed to score a total of 11 runs that inning, turning a 6-3 game into a 17-3 slaughter.
Despite allowing 11 runs in the inning, Ehmke finished the sixth. Shockingly, he didn't come back out to pitch the seventh inning. Ehmke finished with six innings pitched, allowing 17 runs (only 16 earned though, big difference) on 21 hits and four walks. His game score was -34, which is the third worst of all time. His ERA jumped 0.39 that day, going up to 3.78. That game accounted for over 10% of the runs he allowed that season.
After that, the Yankees went on to score another seven runs off Red Sox reliever Clarence Blethen. Meanwhile, Jones didn't have the best of starts, but still wound up pitching a complete game, allowing four runs on 11 hits, and winning 24-4.
The Yankees put up 30 hits total in the game. Five of them came from Babe Ruth, including a home run. Wally Schang also had five hits, driving in five runs. Jones collected three hits, while Joe Dugan and Elmer Smith each had three despite not starting the game.
In just the 11th game of his major league career, Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig collected four hits–three doubles and a single–and drove in four runs. The four hits he picked up that day were more than he had in the previous ten games he played.
The 1923 Yankees went on to win the World Series, beating the Giants in six games, while the 1923 Red Sox finished in last place, 37 games back of New York. This game was an encapsulation of why.
All data courtesy of the Baseball-Reference Play Index