Best of the 2010s: Most memorable Red Sox games of the decade
Spoiler alert: the top 10 Red Sox games of the last decade could be devoted entirely to David Ortiz if we really wanted.
Big Papi's flair for the dramatic was evident right from the start, when he walked off Phil Coke and the Tigers with a bases-loaded double on July 31, 2010, and it continued through his final game, when he drew a walk before being lifted for a pinch runner in the 2016 playoffs while fans chanted his name. His tearful goodbye from the mound was an indelible moment.
The Red Sox were about more than Ortiz over the last 10 years, however. Here are their 10 most memorable games from a decade that brought us two titles.
More Best of the 2010s content: All-Decade Red Sox team | Best Sox transactions of decade | Biggest Sox villains of decade | John Tomase's All-Interview team
10. Hanley sends Yankees home
The 2016 Red Sox were locked in a divisional dogfight when the Yankees arrived on September 15 trailing by just a game in the AL East.
The Bombers were on the verge of forging a tie when Hanley Ramirez stepped in vs. Dellin Betances with two outs in the ninth and New York clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Ramirez turned around a 99-mph fastball in short order, ripping it into the center field bleachers to kickstart a four-game sweep and 11-game winning streak that salted away the division and returned the Red Sox to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
9. It's not me, it's them
A mess of a 2017 season hit its nadir in April when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia on a Friday night, starting a chain of events that has effectively ended the second baseman's career.
The real drama ratcheted up two days later, however, when Matt Barnes threw behind Machado's head, prompting a heated reaction from the Orioles. Cameras caught Pedroia telling Machado he would've hit him the day before, and that he wasn't behind the latest attempted beanballs, tarnishing his image and also revealing cracks in the foundation that would eventually cost manager John Farrell his job.
8. Time to party!
There's not a more quintessentially Mookie Betts moment than what happened to end a 13-pitch marathon against Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ on a July night during his MVP 2018 season.
Betts entered the confrontation only 5 for 31 lifetime vs. Happ, but he finally vanquished him during a seven-minute at-bat that ended with Betts launching a grand slam over everything in left field while broadcaster Dennis Eckersley told us what time it was.
The normally low-key Betts let out a whoop as he strutted around first that may still be his most exuberant moment in a Red Sox uniform.
7. All night long
The Red Sox arrived in Los Angeles for Game 3 of the World Series thinking sweep. They left the park more than seven hours later realizing they'd once again have to dig deep in a season marked by resilience.
This one felt like it might last forever. The Red Sox managed to push across the tying run in the eighth inning on a Jackie Bradley homer. They took the lead in the 13th and seemingly had it won, only for Gold Glove second baseman Ian Kinsler to throw away the clinching grounder.
The game finally ended at 3:30 a.m. EST on Max Muncy's homer leading off the 18th vs. a dogged Nathan Eovaldi. When the Red Sox won it all two nights later, tearful teammates saluted Eovaldi's toughness over six innings of stellar relief.
6. Ortiz's World Series speech
So much Ortiz. The 2013 Red Sox may retrospectively feel like a team of destiny, but they had to survive some serious scares along the way.
No situation was more dire than Game 4 of the World Series, when they risked dropping a third straight game to the Cardinals. Ortiz rallied the team in the dugout like Knute Rockne before the top of the sixth, and then Jonny Gomes launched the game-winning three-run homer vs. Seth Maness.
Afterwards, a jubilant Ortiz could be heard screaming from the shower, "I've got two rings! You want to win one! You follow me!" He backed up his talk by hitting .688 and being named MVP.
5. Benintendi saves it
The 2018 Red Sox may have been a machine, but they faced their toughest test in the ALCS against the defending champions.
The Astros entered the series banged up, but still fearsome, and as their best hitter, Alex Bregman, ripped a Craig Kimbrel fastball to left in Game 4 with the bases loaded and the Red Sox up two runs, it only took a millisecond to realize the stakes as Andrew Benintendi charged headlong. He'd either be a diving hero or a stumbling goat.
He scooped the ball off the turf as heroism prevailed, and one game later, the Red Sox booked passage to the World Series.
4. Every little thing, gonna be all right
There are two pieces to every dramatic moment — the feat itself, and the emotional reaction.
Think Carlton Fisk waving his Game 6 homer fair, Manny Ramirez thrusting both arms over his head after taking K-Rod to the moon, or what Shane Victorino did to win the 2013 ALCS.
The former switch hitter delivered a perfectly looping right-on-right swing to lift a Jose Veras curveball into the Monster seats for the go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning of Game 6. His jaunt around the bases was pure chest-pounding joy, the Flyin' Hawaiian practically levitating as he hit home plate. It was one of the biggest hits of a season that was meant to be.
3. This is our Bleeping City
If you didn't live it, it's hard to describe how the Marathon bombings nearly broke us. Angry, wounded, shaken, scared, we spent a week glued to the TV while the Red Sox toiled in Cleveland.
When they returned to Fenway Park the Saturday after the explosions, no one knew exactly how to feel. Then Ortiz grabbed a microphone and articulated exactly what Boston meant to all of us.
A couple of hours later, Daniel Nava drilled a dramatic go-ahead homer off of Kansas City's Kelvin Herrera in the eighth and the city that never felt like it would be the same cheered in the name of mass catharsis.
2. The collapse
Nearly 10 years later, the worst collapse in baseball history still doesn't feel real.
The 2011 Red Sox opened September with the AL's best record. Twenty losses later, they trudged off the field at Camden Yards in shock following Carl Crawford's failure to corral a sinking Robert Andino liner. No sooner had they entered their clubhouse than Evan Longoria walked off the Yankees to complete an epic comeback in Tampa and send the Red Sox home for a serious reckoning.
Within days, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein would be gone, the drinking habits of the starting staff would be under a microscope, and fans everywhere except here would marvel at baseball's wildest final day, ever.
1. David Ortiz! David Ortiz! David Ortiz!
Can there be anywhere else to finish?
The Red Sox were on the verge of dropping the first two games of the 2013 ALCS at home vs. the Tigers when Ortiz stepped to the plate in the eighth against Joaquin Benoit with the bases loaded and the Red Sox trailing 5-1.
One pitch later, Fenway erupted as Ortiz laced one to right. Torii Hunter flipped over the fence, bullpen cop Steve Horgan raised his arms in celebration, WEEI's Dave O'Brien delivered the signature call of his career, and Big Papi touched 'em all.
The grand slam gave them life, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia completed the comeback by walking off Rick Porcello in the ninth.