Ben Rice’s Historic Game Lifts Yankees Out of Red Sox Defeat

Just when they hoped to be at their lowest point, the Yankees found themselves looking at the top of the order.

In a lineup that included Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, and on an afternoon that saw Gerrit Cole on the mound, it was new leadoff hitter Ben Rice who kept his team from losing for the fifth straight game.

It was Rice, who made his debut just two and a half weeks ago, who opened the scoring with a home run, nearly ended the game with another and wrote himself into Yankees history with a third.

Ben Rice rounds the bases with his three-run home run in the seventh inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Ben Rice was greeted by Aaron Judge after the rookie hit his third home run of the game. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

It was Rice, a 25-year-old who had come through the system as a 12th-round pick out of Dartmouth with little experience and no real position, who became the first Yankees rookie ever to hit three home runs in a single game.

His inexperience is evident from his detour through the dugout after his final shot of the afternoon, trying to find the right spot for his first round of applause as his teammates jostled him.

By the time Rice finished his work, the Yankees had defeated the Red Sox 14-4 in front of 45,504 sweaty fans in the Bronx on a scorching Saturday.

Thanks largely to their inexperienced first baseman, the Yankees (55-36) managed to break a losing streak and recorded only their fifth win in their last 19 games.

“Kind of a legendary day,” manager Aaron Boone said after Rice became the 26th player in Yankees history to hit at least three home runs in a regular-season game.

Ben Rice joined a select group.
Yankees first baseman Ben Rice throws his bat up after hitting a solo home run in the first inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Ben Rice reacts in the dugout as he rounds the bases with his three-run home run in the fifth inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“It’s a historic day, a magical day,” Cole said after fouling out in a one-run hole in the fifth inning before Rice took over. “Honestly, I’m very grateful to be on the lineup card because I know he’ll remember it forever.”

“This is definitely a day I will never forget,” Rice said with the same smile on his face he had after every explosion.

There are concerns throughout the rotation, including Cole, who has been dominant but lacking sharpness.

There are concerns about the entire batting order, particularly at third base, where DJ LeMahieu showed little before hitting two RBI singles.

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) during the fifth inning when the New York Yankees played the Cincinnati Reds. Robert Sabo for NY Post

Fresh concerns have emerged over focus and commitment after questions were raised about the level of commitment in the previous two defeats.

There are concerns about the bullpen after Clay Holmes and Tommy Kahnle combined to allow the tying and winning runs on Friday night.

Those concerns were at least temporarily alleviated when Rice’s second home run of the day sank to deep right field, a three-run homer that extended the lead to six and helped a struggling offense reach double figures in the fifth inning.

New York Yankees first baseman Ben Rice hugs his father Dan Rice after the final out of the game. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Rice started the day with a home run to deep right field.

After his fifth-inning home run turned the game into a laughing stock, his seventh-inning home run cemented his place in franchise history.

Rice’s third home run to deep right (and second against Boston’s Chase Anderson) drove in three more runs on an afternoon in which he finished with seven RBIs, tying Lou Gehrig (who did the same on July 25, 1925) for the most RBIs by a Yankees rookie in a game in franchise history (at least since RBI became a statistic in 1920).

Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo #24 is greeted by his teammates in the dugout after hitting his two-run home run in the third inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

A Boston boy who grew up a Yankees fan in enemy territory, who once wrote “Yankees Rule” on the Pesky Pole, and whose family and friends were eager to see him join the rivalry, did what no other rookie in the history of the pinstripe had done.

But Rice knows how to hit a home run.

It took time to figure out how to fire the starting gun. He had to fight his way through the shelter and started climbing the stairs in the middle before being pushed and pulled toward the entrance.

Rafael Devers admires his home run for the Red Sox on Saturday. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“Honestly, it happened so fast,” said Rice, who became the fifth-fastest in a three-homer game (in his 17th career game) in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. “I think I was still coming down from the high of hitting the home run, and I was just walking through the dugout and I heard everybody yelling at me to do something. I didn’t even know what they were talking about.

“Luckily I got it in. That was really great.”

History was cool, but it was also cool to help out a team that needed it.

Yankees left fielder Alex Verdugo and New York Yankees DH Aaron Judge celebrate after hitting a two-run home run off Verdugo in the third inning. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

A day to go down in history was also a day to catch a breath for a team that had not taken a breather in a while.

“Something he’ll never forget, and people watching here probably won’t forget either,” Boone said before putting the game into context. “Obviously it was very much needed.”

Leave a Comment