Jeff Frye leads the Sox in a
9th inning come back
July 17, 1996
No other game in the 1996 season may be as meaningful as this one.
The pile-on after Jeff Frye's two-out, ninth-inning single off John
Wetteland, the best closer in baseball, gave the Red Sox an
implausible 12-11 win over the Yankees probably was the closest thing
to a championship atmosphere that Fenway Park will experience this
It was THE game of the season.
The noise in the stands wasn't as inspiring as 34,082 fans watched the Sox turn
a 9-2 seventh-inning lead into an 11-9 deficit in the ninth. A three-run double
by Kevin Mitchell in the fifth and a three-run homer by Jose Canseco in the
sixth had helped Boston shatter a 2-2 tie as the Sox victimized Yankee starter
Kenny Rogers, Bob Wickman and Jeff Nelson.
But Tom Gordon was lifted in
the seventh after Ruben Sierra lined a three-run homer into the right-field
grandstand, making it 9-5, and Bernie Williams belted a two-run homer in the
eighth off Mike Stanton, bringing New York within 9-7. Heathcliff Slocumb left
the bases loaded in the eighth but allowed four runs in the ninth as the Yankees
grabbed the two-run lead and were poised to deal Boston its worst defeat of a
Mariano Duncan started the
Yankee uprising with a double down the right-field line and came in on Williams'
third RBI, a single to center. Paul O'Neill singled to center to keep things
alive, and Darryl Strawberry tied it with a single.
Slocumb left the game to a
round of boos, but the Yankees still weren't done. Sierra smacked a long
sacrifice fly to center off Vaughn Eshelman for what appeared to be some
It seemed an unlikely climax as
Wetteland carried his major league-record 24-save streak to the mound in the
ninth. But with one out, he walked Tim Naehring and then allowed a double off
the wall to Mike Stanley. He dominated Mitchell (four RBIs) by striking him out
on four pitches. Down to his club's last gasp, Kennedy sent up .375-hitting
Mindful of his recent prowess,
the Yankees intentionally walked Jefferson to load the bases. Kennedy sent in
O'Leary to bat for Jose Malave. Pouncing on the first pitch, O'Leary doubled off
the wall. Then Frye did his damage.
The Sox helped themselves to
their sixth victory in seven games since the All-Star break and second in this
three-game series, though they're still 15 games behind American League East
leader New York.