Those same Sox who stumbled through a four-game losing streak suddenly looked like world beaters, thoroughly outhitting and outpitching the Yankees en route to a 17-1 romp in the Bronx.
How thorough was the pounding? It was the most lopsided victory the Red Sox have ever come away with against their long-time rivals, as the previous high was a 14-run blowout.
By the eighth inning, the scoreboard in center field was malfunctioning, and you can only wonder if the sheer usage of the day took its toll.
The Sox notched a season-high scoring output. And their 27 hits were one shy of tying a franchise record that has been accomplished twice, most recently on June 27, 2003, when they battered the Marlins, 25-8, and beat up on the same starting pitcher (Carl Pavano) who took the loss in this one.
Did someone say something about the Sox being in a slump?
"I think it's pretty good for us to come out of a little slump that way," said Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. "One thing we haven't been doing is hitting like we did today. This is a really good offensive team, and we haven't been swinging the bats. This game today gives everybody more confidence and lets people believe that we still have really good hitters."
Those really good hitters, as Ortiz described them, were on display from top to bottom.
Leadoff man Johnny Damon went 4-for-7 and scored three runs. Edgar Renteria (3-for-3, two runs, five RBIs) continued his red-hot road trip by belting the fourth grand slam of his career, a blow that gave the first indication of what a rout this was going to be.
Ortiz scored three runs, walked twice and had a pair of hits. And Manny Ramirez, who has been strangely subpar with his batting average, went 4-for-4, giving himself a bump from .224 to .242.
On and on it went, with Trot Nixon going 3-for-6 with five RBIs. All nine starters had multi-hit games, including John Olerud, who went 3-for-6 in his debut with his new team.
"We needed today a lot," said Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "We made the plays in the field, pitched well, had good, timely hitting. It's the first time those things came together in a long time for us."
Lost in the aftermath of the final score was the way starter Matt Clement (6-0, 3.06 ERA) battled his way out of jams when it was still a game in the early innings.
"It was a thing where we needed a win, whether it was 17-1 or 1-0," said Clement, who fired six shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out seven. "I was just trying to minimize the damage as much as I could."
The Sox recovered from Friday night's frustrating 6-3 loss by pestering New York right-hander Pavano right out of the gate. In the first, they used fundamentals, getting a leadoff double from Damon, a sacrifice bunt by Renteria and an Ortiz sacrifice fly. It was an immediate signal that runs would not be nearly as hard to come by as they were in the series opener, when the Sox stranded 13 runners in a loss to Randy Johnson.
"Johnny gets on at the start of the game, Edgar lays down a bunt, we got the run in," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "If that's last night, David probably hits it 10 feet shorter and [Tony] Womack throws him out. We kept at them earlier and then we extended it."
And kept extending it.
Two-out RBI singles by Damon and Renteria pushed the lead to 3-0 in the second.
In the fourth, the Sox sent Pavano to an early shower, with Renteria jump-starting a two-out rally with a single up the middle. Ortiz walked, setting up Ramirez for an RBI single to left. Nixon followed by producing a single up the middle to score Renteria. That was all for Pavano, who was replaced by Mike Stanton after allowing 11 hits and five runs over 3 2/3 innings.
Pavano's exit did nothing to quiet the Boston bats. They walloped the Yankees in the fifth, with Renteria's fourth career grand slam (hit off Paul Quantrill) sailing over the wall in right.
For Renteria, the knock was particularly sweet after some of the struggles he went through in his first few weeks with the Sox.
"It was a lot of fun, because we won the game and the team needed it," Renteria said.
Three batters later, Nixon bashed a three-run shot to center, putting the capper on a seven-run inning and giving the Sox a 12-0 advantage.
From there, both sides began to empty their bench. Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez all made early exits for the Yankees, while Renteria, Bill Mueller and Ramirez were out before the sixth inning was complete.
"It was kind of obvious, we needed that," Francona said. "Not only to win, but to be able to have a little bit of room where you could take some deep breaths and let our staff pitch. We got [Keith] Foulke an inning, we got [Mike] Timlin an inning, and not under duress. Clement didn't have to pitch any further. A lot of good things. Guys got some hits, got to relax a little bit. That was good for us."
"They've been scuffling lately," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "But if you don't pitch well, they can do some damage."
The damage on Saturday, at least in the context of one of the great rivalries in sports, was historic.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.