Thursday was a night for solo homers in the Bronx, and the Yankees had the final say, using a pair of them in the ninth inning to pull out a dramatic win against the Red Sox. Mark Teixeira's shot to lead off the inning against Boston closer Koji Uehara tied the score at 4-4, and two batters later, Chase Headley's blast gave the Yankees not only the victory but a win for the three-game series.
Thanks to a pair of dingers by David Ortiz off starter Chris Capuano — a solo homer in the first, a two-run homer in the third — the Yankees dug themselves an early 3-0 hole that threatened to carry them to their third straight series defeat and their sixth loss in nine games. They rallied for three runs against Boston starter Brandon Workman in the bottom of the third, however, with a Derek Jeter double plating Ichiro Suzuki (who had singled) and Jacoby Ellsbury (who had walked), and then Carlos Beltran bringing Jeter home with another single.
Brock Holt's solo homer off Capuano in the fifth returned the lead to the Sox, and with Workman and relievers Tommy Lane and Junichi Tazawa holding the Yankees to an infield single and a walk over the next four frames, it looked as though that margin might hold up. Uehara entered the game a long ways off from the dominant form he showed last year, having yielded eight runs in 4 1/3 innings over his previous five outings dating back to August 16, blowing two saves and taking two losses in the process. He fell behind Teixeira 2-0 before battling to even the count, but on his sixth pitch, he left an 81 mph splitter in the dead center of the strike zone, and the Yankees first baseman didn't miss it:
It was Teixeira's 21st homer of the season but his first since August 17 and just his fourth since the All-Star break; he entered the game hitting .179/.287/.295 in 129 second-half plate appearances. It was the second time this year he tied a game with a ninth-inning homer, having done so back on May 11 against the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez in Miller Park.
Uehara got Brian McCann to line out to leftfield, and then battled Headley to a full count before another splitter caught too much of the plate:
The homer was Headley's 11th of the year, and his fourth since being acquired from the Padres in late July. He had hit two prior walk-off homers, both as a Padre, the most recent of which came on August 21, 2012 off the Pirates' Daniel McCutchen. The one off Uehara was his second walk-off hit for the Yankees; his first came in his debut with the team on July 22, when his single off the Rangers' Nick Tepesch ended a 14-inning epic.
Via @YEStoresearch, the last time the Yankees had game-tying and game-winning homers in the same inning came at the Red Sox expense as well. On May 17, 2010, Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames completed the feat by homering off Jonathan Papelbon.
(Side note: I was in attendance at Yankee Stadium on August 9, 2000, when Bernie Williams and David Justice did the same thing on the only two pitches thrown by A’s closer Jason Isringhausen.)
While the win lifted the Yankees to 72-66, the Orioles’ win over the Reds left New York still 9 1/2 games behind Baltimore in the AL East race. They’re four back in the race for the second Wild Card spot, currently held by the Tigers; the Mariners are just half a game back. Coming into the day, the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds report estimated the Yankees' chances of pulling out a postseason berth at just 3.5 percent, meaning that they'll need a comeback on a much grander scale than this one if they're to play in October.