Sunday night’s Yankees-Red Sox game at a packed Fenway Park came with all the nuttiness and trappings you’d expect.
A fire alarm went off in the top of the fourth inning. Umpire Joe West, still nimble at 68, sprung out from behind the plate to stop the action and the game was delayed for four minutes.
West, who called Dave Roberts safe in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, has said he plans to retire after the season. A Yankees-Sox game was a fitting Fenway farewell for Country Joe, who earlier this year set the record for most MLB games umpired.
David Ortiz and Roger Clemens also were in the house. Big Papi checked in with frenemy Alex Rodriguez in the ESPN booth in the fifth inning while the Rocket was down the hall with Joe Castiglione on the radio.
Ortiz and Clemens will be on the Hall of Fame ballot this winter, Ortiz for the first time and Clemens for the last.
It also was the final home game of the regular season.
Unless the Sox get going again, the next game at Fenway won’t be until March 31. The Yankees came back for a wild 6-3 victory to complete a three-game sweep and take over first place in the American League wild-card race.
The Yankees have won six straight and at 89-67 lead the 88-68 Sox by a game with six to play. The 87-69 Blue Jays are a game behind the Sox.
Now the Sox will rely on the schedule to save them. They finish the season on the road against the Orioles and Nationals starting on Tuesday. Baltimore has 106 losses and Washington is 16-37 since deciding to sell at the trade deadline.
The Yankees have three in Toronto and then host the Rays for three. The Jays close with three against the Orioles at home.
The Sox finished 10-9 against the Yankees, which could prove valuable if it determines home field in the Wild Card Game.
“We’re still in position to make the playoffs,” manager Alex Cora said. “That’s not the worst-case scenario.”
The schedule says the Sox still have a very good chance. But their performance over the weekend suggests they wouldn’t know what to do with that chance if they got it.
The Sox were outscored, 19-9, in the series and allowed eight runs in the eighth inning the last two games. With former closer Matt Barnes still working to regain Cora’s trust and Garrett Whitlock and Josh Taylor on the injured list, the Sox twice blew leads in the late innings.
Sunday was a game befitting baseball’s best rivalry as an unlikely series of events in the seventh and eighth innings seemed to come out of the 2003-04 playbook.
Down 2-1, the Sox scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh inning when Kyle Schwarber reached base on an error by left fielder Joey Gallo after the usually sure-handed DJ LeMahieu dropped a foul popup near third base.
Garrett Richards, who morphed into a reliable reliever after failing as a starter, walked LeMahieu with one out in the eighth. Anthony Rizzo followed with a double to center, putting LeMahieu at third.
Cora called on Adam Ottavino to face Aaron Judge. He popped up the second pitch in front of the Sox dugout, but Bobby Dalbec pulled up at the railing and didn’t make the catch.
No matter, Ottavino struck Judge out with a fastball. Except the ball popped out of Christian Vázquez’s mitt and was ruled a foul tip by West.
“I caught the ball. I dropped it on the transfer. That’s the first time that’s happened to me,” Vázquez said.
The call is not reviewable, although Vázquez thought the umpires should have talked it over.
Judge did not miss another chance, crushing a double to center field to drive in two runs.
The second pitch to Giancarlo Stanton was a hanging slider that he pounded over the Green Monster. Stanton was 7 for 12 in the series with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He looked almost disdainful running the bases.
“You can make bad pitches. It doesn’t mean he’s going to hit it 1,000 feet. Credit to him there,” Ottavino said.
Stanton drove in one more run in the series than the Sox scored. He has 22 RBIs in 24 career games at Fenway Park.
The only other Yankee with 10 RBIs in a three-game series against the Sox was Mickey Mantle in 1954.
The Sox put runners on first and third with one out in the eighth, but Dalbec struck out for the fourth time and José Iglesias popped up.
Aroldis Chapman is not the fearsome closer he once was. But he disposed of the Sox in the ninth inning. By then Judge, Stanton, and the Yankees had ripped their hearts out.