Having just passed the quarter-mark of the season, the Yankees were flying high. They strolled into Boston with a five-game winning streak, and though they dropped the series opener, a resounding 12-3 response in the middle game represented a statement of intent that the Yankees were in town not only to win the series, but to pound their opponents into dust in the process.
Record: 33-10, .767 (up 6.0)
This game featured a matchup of veteran righty starting pitchers and former Royals teammates David Cone and Bret Saberhagen. Neither of the grizzled old hurlers could’ve been thrilled with the way their respective seasons had started, each of them entering the contest with an ERA over 6.00. On this night, it was the elder statesman who won the day, with the 35-year-old Cone getting the best of the 34-year-old Saberhagen and the Red Sox lineup with six innings of two-run (one earned) ball.
It was actually Boston who struck first in the contest. Darren Lewis led off the bottom of the first with a double, scoring on a double from Mo Vaughn two batters later. Lewis would again get the better of Cone the following inning, driving in his team’s second run with an RBI groundout after Mike Benjamin led off the frame with a single, advanced to second on a Dale Sveum error and then onto third on a Lou Merloni sac bunt.
New York’s offense said enough was enough, going to work on Saberhagen in the third. Sveum and Joe Girardi led off with back-to-back singles, setting up a three-run Chuck Knoblauch blast over the Green Monster to grab a lead the Yankees would not surrender. They were far from finished, however, with Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neill adding their own back-to-back singles with no outs.
Saberhagen finally managed to record an out getting Bernie Williams to fly out, however the respite would prove short-lived. He’d surrender a pair of RBI singles to Tim Raines and Scott Brosius giving Jimy Williams no option but to amble from the dugout to retrieve his struggling pitcher. Ron Mahay came on in relief and promptly served up a two-run single to Girardi. All told, the Yankees batted around and then some in the inning, tallying seven runs on eight hits and a walk.
Cone’s command was sporadic throughout the contest, highlighted in the fourth when he hit consecutive batters and issued a single to Lewis to load the bases with two outs. He did manage to induce a groundout to leave the bases juiced and preserve his team’s 7-2 lead.
The offense repaid him for his effort in the top-half of the following frame, again batting around to hang a crooked number on the Fenway scoreboard. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs thanks to walks from Raines and Brosius and Chad Curtis reaching on an error. Sveum drove Raines home with a sac fly, followed by a Girardi single to reload the bases. Mahay hit Knoblauch to plunk in a run, Jeter singled Brosius and Girardi home, and an O’Neill sac fly plated Knoblauch. A wild pitch to Williams allowed Jeter to take second, from whence he would score on a Williams single through the left side.
By the time the dust had settled, the Yankees had a 13-2 lead, and even the most erratic starting pitcher could breathe a little easier. Things would cool off in the ensuing innings, with both teams saving a final flurry for the eighth and ninth. Boston scored a pair of consolation runs off reliever Willie Banks while Brosius welcomed Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley (pitching in his final season) to the game with home run to lead off the ninth. That would conclude the scoring in the contest as the Yankees demolished their long time foes on their own turf, 14-4.