- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- Granted, this is not in the same league with Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin battling in the visitors' dugout, Bucky Bleeping Dent, Goose popping up Yaz, Pedro Martinez doing an ole with Don Zimmer, Roger Clemens appearing in pinstripes, Dave Roberts stealing second or David Ortiz flinging his helmet in the air after October walkoff magic.
And really, it doesn't deserve to be ranked ahead of Saturday's singular achievements -- the Red Sox with their 10-4 win becoming the first team ever to beat Yankees ace CC Sabathia four times in the same season, Carl Crawford having his fourth four-hit game of 2011 or Jacoby Ellsbury driving in a career-high six runs, the most by a Sox leadoff man since Ellis Burks drove in seven as a rookie in 1987.
Then again, in the rich century-plus history of games between these ancient foes, this was a first, although the great stat heads of our times -- Si Siwoff at Elias, Sean Forman at Baseball-reference.com, Bill James of Manhattan, Kan., and Mark Simon in ESPN's laboratories in Bristol -- would be hard-pressed to verify that this has never happened before in the annals of Yankees-Red Sox.
But here it is: Game delayed on account of a beer spill.
It happened here Saturday afternoon in the sixth inning, Sabathia likely in need of some liquid refreshment after having given up seven runs -- equaling the number of runs he had allowed in his previous eight starts combined. A Fenway Park beer vendor working the box seats along the third-base railing just to the right of the Yankees' dugout lost control of the trayful of beer he was carrying, and green-and-white cans of Heineken cascaded over the railing onto the field.
The plate umpire, Mark Carlson, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the plate, called timeout. A batboy, security guard and Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar assisted in corralling the dropped cans and reloading the tray.
"I was hoping Bogie would seize the moment, grab one, pop it open and take a swig,'' hitting coach Dave Magadan said. "It was an opportunity.''
Red Sox manager Terry Francona had the opposite reaction.
"I'm glad Bogie didn't grab one and start drinking one,'' he said. "So many things happen in our games. I saw the umpire go over there and I'm thinking, 'Who's fighting who, who said something to who?'''
Sox coaching staffer Rob Leary laughed, thinking of John Belushi's reaction in the cult classic "Animal House" when the authorities at Faber College dumped out all the booze outside of the rebel Delta Tau Chi frathouse.
"It was like Belushi's world ended,'' Leary said. "I told Bogie, you should have put one in your pocket. People would have gone crazy. If I was Bogie, I would have put one right in my pocket, then gone over to a fan and given it to him. They'd have been ecstatic. Bogie could have said, 'Hey, I worked for it. I picked 'em up.'''
Bogar did no such thing, of course, and the clean-up proceeded without further incident. Total delay: just a few minutes, but enough to be noted on MLB.com's "gameday" ticker.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with the Sox engaged in drawing back into a first-place tie with the Yankees, armed with the knowledge that on Sunday night they would be sending their ace, Josh Beckett, to the hill in the rubber game of this series.
And Beckett against the Bombers this season has had a decidedly different tenor than CC against the Red Sox. Beckett is 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA. The last time Beckett faced the Yankees in the Fens, back on April 10, he held them scoreless on two hits while striking out 10, the equivalent of shouting from the mountaintops that he was the Beckett of old.
Sabathia, meanwhile, is now 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Sox, compared with 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against the rest of baseball. Go figure.
"Luck, I guess,'' said Dustin Pedroia, who doubled home a run in the third, when they scored twice, a prelude to a five-run fourth climaxed by Ellsbury's three-run home run into the first couple of rows of the right-field grandstand.
"He's got great stuff. We know what CC's about," said Pedroia. "He's a great competitor, he does things the right way, he's their horse. We've been able to get hits at the right time.''
The seven-spot was plenty for a bend-but-not-break John Lackey, who kept the Yankees at bay with perhaps his finest moment this season, when he punched out Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira back-to-back, then retired Robinson Cano on a bouncer to first, all after the Yankees put the first three runners on and scored a run in the fifth.
For all the flak Lackey has taken this season, he had enough Saturday to record his 10th win, reaching double figures in wins before Beckett (9-4) did.
"You can't say enough about those guys,'' Lackey said of the way the Sox knocked around Sabathia. "Our offense has been tremendous all year. CC's having a hell of a year, and especially for our left-handed guys to get some hits off of him today. That left-on-left matchup's probably the hardest in the league right now. It's pretty impressive."
Sabathia came into the game having held left-handed hitters to a .183 average this season, and had allowed just five extra-base hits to lefties in 164 at-bats. That was before Crawford whacked a first-pitch double off the Monster to start a two-run rally in the third, and Ellsbury reached the seats with his 19th home run in a five-run fourth, a rally begun by Kevin Youkilis' double off the wall in center.
"Believe me, it's not like we see him and say we're going to lunch up on this guy,'' Francona said. "He's good. We had really good at-bats the first couple innings, but he went right through us. Then we did some good things.''
It should be noted that Sabathia hasn't been exactly a soft touch for the Sox this season, even though he has come out on the losing end all four times. He left his first start trailing 1-0, though the Sox managed nine hits in just 5 2/3 innings. In his last start, on June 9, he took a 2-0 lead into the seventh, when the Sox exploded for seven runs.
"We've beaten some good pitchers this season,'' Magadan said of a team that can count Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, David Price and James Shields among its other victims. "We try to rise to the occasion against them. We know those are the kind of guys we have to beat. I think if you want to be the best, you've got to beat guys like CC.
"We've been fortunate," Magadan added. "The big one was in New York, when he was mowing us down and we rallied against him. That's just a fluke. He's really good.''
Ellsbury, who earlier this week had back-to-back walkoff hits, is matching the excitement he is generating on the field with the blandness of his remarks off of it.
"I try to go out each and every day, have fun, win ballgames,'' Ellsbury said.
Saturday, he became just the second left-handed hitter to take Sabathia deep this season, joining teammate Adrian Gonzalez. Ellsbury now has more home runs (19) than Gonzalez (18) and more RBIs (72) than David Ortiz (71).
"Ells is pretty good, too,'' Magadan said.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
Another strange moment for the Red Sox-Yankees history book.