Red Sox beat Yankees on improbable walk-off walk

BOSTON, MA - MAY 4: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA - MAY 4: Andrew Benintendi /

As Friday’s game unfolded, memories were rekindled of Ted Williams, the last Red Sox hitter to beat the Yankees on a walk-off walk over 60 years ago.

Boston Red Sox fans were witness to one of the most dramatic scenarios in all of sports Friday night at Fenway Park – the walk-off.

According to, the definition of a walk-off is: “When the home team takes the lead in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings. Because the visiting team will not get another turn at-bat, the game ends immediately, with the home team victorious.”

According to that same source, “the term walk-off was originally coined by pitcher Dennis Eckersley to describe game-ending home runs that were so deep, you didn’t have to look at them as a pitcher. You just “walked off.” Since then, the term has evolved to connote a situation where the game ends, with the losing team left to “walk off” the field in defeat.”

Since the year 2010, only 1.4% of all bottom of the ninth inning walk-off victories have ended on a “walk.”

To quote the immortal Jack Buck’s call of Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series, “I don’t believe what I just saw.” Such words would hardly be sufficient to describe the series of events that unfolded at Fenway Park last night.

After Dellin Betances’ complete and unmitigated manhandling of the Red Sox lineup in the bottom of the eighth inning, I was incapable of imagining a scenario in which the Red Sox emerged triumphant as the game headed into the home half of the ninth inning.

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As I witnessed improbable event after improbable event, it was difficult to believe what I was observing. In fact, in my 15 years of watching Red Sox baseball, I am uncertain if I have ever witnessed a more implausible victory.

Before Aroldis Chapman was able to record an out, the Red Sox walked-off victoriously against the hated franchise from the Bronx as Andrew Benintendi drew a bases-loaded walk.

For such a triumph to be realized, it required the following events to occur in succession: Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia began the inning with two infield singles, the tandem then proceeded to pull off a successful double steal, the Yankee second baseman booted a tailor-made double play ball, an intentional walk, and a bases-loaded walk.

History was made on multiple fronts during yesterday’s 5-4 Red Sox stampede over the rival New York Yankees. It marked the first time in the historic storied rivalry that the Red Sox walked-off in a nine-inning contest via a base on balls.

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It also was the first such occurrence in Major League Baseball since June 19, 2016, the last regulation game to conclude via the issuance of a base on balls. In said game, the Dodgers secured a 2-1 victory over the Brewers when our own Tyler Thornburg walked Yasmani Grandal, plating Scott Van Slyke.

Furthermore, according to Ian Browne and Bryan Hoch, “although this was the fourth walk-off win of the season for the Red Sox, it was their first victory when trailing after eight innings. Boston is 1-38 when facing a deficit going into the ninth.”

134 contests in the legendary rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and The New York Yankees have ended in walk-off fashion, with the Yankees emerging triumphant on 86 occasions, while the Red Sox have tasted glorified success on 48 occurrences.

In four of the aforementioned Yankee victories, the decisive run scored via the base on balls, while three of the 48 Red Sox walk-offs occurred with the home plate umpire exclaiming, “ball four.”

The last time that the Red Sox beat the Yankees via a walk-off base on balls occurred on August 7, 1956, when New York’s Tommy Byrne walked Boston’s Ted Williams to score pinch runner Billy Consolo in a 1-0, 11-inning, Red Sox obliteration of their guests from The Big Apple.

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The most recent Red Sox victory by way of the walk-off walk occurred on September 23, 2000, in a 10-inning affair against the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore pitcher Ryan Kohlmeier issued a base on balls to Trot Nixon, plating Troy O’Leary as the Red Sox asserted their superiority in an 8-7 victory.