Yanks, White Sox exchange crazy 8s
Teams combine for 16 runs, 18 hits, 26 batters in second inning
NEW YORK -- Eight turned out not to be enough, but it was so nice, the White Sox and Yankees did it twice.
Chicago and New York swapped eight-run frames in an hour-long second inning Thursday at Yankee Stadium, combining for 18 hits from 26 batters off five pitchers.
The monster frame marked just the second time in history that two teams have scored at least eight runs in both halves of an inning, and the 16 combined runs were the most scored in the second inning of a Major League game.
One shy of the big-league record for any inning, it wasn't what you'd envision from a matchup of Roger Clemens and Jon Garland.
"It's a funny thing because of who was on the mound; that's the thing that killed me," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "You come to the game today and you expect to have a better game from the starting pitchers. You have a Hall of Famer out there and a guy who's winning at least 17 games every year and doing a tremendous job."
Clemens recorded just two outs in the inning, turning in his shortest start since June 14, 2000, vs. Boston, surrendering eight runs. Only three of them were earned, however, due to a pivotal Robinson Cano error that opened the gateway for Chicago's half inning.
"When you can't stop the activity that's going on, it's just disappointing," Clemens said. "You pride yourself in doing it, and it just wasn't good. It's a situation where I got the guys behind."
The first eight runs came as the White Sox sent 14 men to the plate, 12 of them against Clemens. Clemens allowed hits to the first five Chicago batters in the frame, including a run-scoring double by Jermaine Dye and a run-scoring infield roller by Darin Erstad in which Clemens was slow covering first base; unable to see the ball's direction off the bat, he would later claim.
Cano then bobbled a Jerry Owens grounder, kicking it around behind him and allowing the bases to be loaded for Alex Cintron, who nubbed a swinging bunt back to the mound.
Clemens slid knee-first on the grass and tossed underhand to catcher Jorge Posada for the second out and had an escape in hand, but never finished the inning: Jim Thome stroked a two-run double to left and Paul Konerko ripped an RBI double, his second hit of the inning -- events that made the Cano play pivotal.
"Robbie's playing his tail off," Clemens said. "You can't worry about that. That's going to happen. Your everyday guys are out there busting their butts, so I don't put a lot of stock in that. You've got to go right back, take a deep breath and try and execute and get out of it. I'm just disappointed it didn't happen."
A.J. Pierzynski followed with a two-run double to complete the scoring in the top half of the inning, but not before Dye doubled for the second time in the frame. Yankees manager Joe Torre called on two relievers -- Mike Myers, who walked the only batter he faced, and Jeff Karstens -- to escape the inning.
With Clemens allowing his most runs since Aug. 26, 2003, when he also gave up an eight-spot to the White Sox, the Yankees were down, but not buried. They'd prove it by mounting an eight-run inning of their own.
"One of a kind, that's for sure," said Alex Rodriguez, who drilled a run-scoring single to break a 22 at-bat hitless string. "That was a long inning. You build to that. Guys swung the bats really well and showed some tenacity."
Like Clemens, Garland also allowed hits to the first five batters in the inning, which began with a leadoff single by Hideki Matsui.
"I said, 'Guys, let's get back a couple at a time,'" Torre said. "All of a sudden, there's eight. The thing that started it off was Matsui having a great at-bat with the base hit, and then all of a sudden, base hit, base hit."
The barrage included a three-run homer by Yankees newcomer Wilson Betemit, who clubbed a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left-center field to mark the event of his first at-bat with New York.
"You knew the ball was gone, because the ball was really taking off out there today," Torre said.
Cano also had an RBI single, atoning in part for his error. Bobby Abreu stroked a run-scoring single to center and Rodriguez -- hitless since hitting homer No. 499 on July 25 -- came through with a contribution, drilling an RBI single to left to chase Garland.
"Bad day to be a pitcher," Garland said. "I've seemed to have a few of those -- that's five or six. They're a hot team right now. I came in and watched that whole inning again. I'm not that upset about some of the pitches I threw. They hit some good pitches. Tip your cap. Not much you can do about it."
After Abreu and Rodriguez pulled off a double steal, Jorge Posada popped a medium-depth fly ball down the right-field line that Dye seemed to pursue slowly. The ball bounced near the foul line and into the seats for a ground-rule double.
The Yankees' season-high ninth hit of the inning brought the Bombers all the way back from the eight-run deficit, earning a prolonged standing ovation from the large matinee crowd on hand.
"To put up an eight-spot, and for them to come right back and put up an eight-spot, it seems like those first couple of innings took two hours," Dye said.
Actually, it took exactly 60 minutes, with the first pitch thrown at 1:23 p.m. ET and the last at 2:23 p.m.
In total, there were 90 pitches thrown in the second inning, with Yankees hurlers tossing 36 and White Sox pitchers firing 54. Within the numbers, one thing was apparent.
"It was ugly," Guillen said. "A lot of ugly things happened today. In the meanwhile, good thing we won. It's going to be crazy [if] you score eight runs and then you lose."
The only other time two teams have each scored eight or more runs in a Major League game was on May 8, 2004, when the Tigers scored eight times in the top of the fifth inning, and the Rangers answered with a 10-run bottom half. The Rangers went on to win that contest, 16-15.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.