There is not much rivalry that matches the historical significance and notoriety of the Yankees and Red Sox.
Despite more than 100 years of history as rivals, the two teams rarely faced off against each other in the post-season. This is due to the fact that two teams play in the same division and with the introduction of the wild-card and division series until 1995, only one team in each division could reach the postseason.
But there were many memorable moments when the two faced off in the decisive game. From the Bucky Dent tie-breaker game to the first post-season meeting in 1 post to the 100-win season meeting in 2018, the Red Sox and Yankees have always been promoted.
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For the first time, the two teams will face off in a winner-move-on, defeat-home-wild-card game on Tuesday. Before the expected clash, Sporting News looks back at the history of the elimination game between the two teams.
1978 tie-breaker game
It’s not technically a play-off game, but it’s an eliminated game by all means.
The Red Sox and Yankees matched the 99-63 record at the end of the 1978 season and topped the AL East. Thus, the 163rd regular-season game had to be added to their schedule to determine who would represent the East in the American League Championship Series.
Based on a coin flip, the Red Sox were nominated as the home team.
Boston went with Mike Torres, the opening pitcher of his opening day, the rubber toes. Torres came into the game with a 16-12 record. He had a 3.92 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 243.1 innings. The Yankees turned to their ace and eventually the 1978 AL Cy Young winner, Ron Guidry, for starters. Guidry was a force in 1978, setting a 24-3 record with a 1.72 ERA in 267.1 innings. He bowled 23 wickets and allowed only 19191 batting average.
In the second inning, Carl Yastrzemsky took Guidri deep to give the Red Sox the lead. At the bottom of the sixth, Jim Rice scored to give Rick Berlson a 2-0 lead. Torez was working in the BB until the seventh inning. The Yankees had two runners at the base, but with two outs, Torres had to retire the rest of Dent just to finish the innings.
A .243 / .286 / .309 slash line owned by Dent was coming into the game and he had just four home runs this season and only 22 of his first 789 games in the big leagues. Naturally, he took Torres deeply for a three-run homer that led New York. The Yankees added another run in the innings and added another run in the eighth over to take a 5-2 lead. The Red Sox added two more runs on the eighth floor, but Goose Gossay held the lead and pushed the Yankees to a 5-4 win and a place in the ALCS.
The Yankees have won the World Series. Another year passed without a Red Sox title.
2003 American League Championship Series
This whole series is one of the most entertaining places in baseball history.
The Red Sox won Game 1, the Yankees won 2 and 3, the Red Sox won Game 4, the Yankees won Game 5 and the Red Sox won 6 to emphasize the final game. One of the most memorable moments of the rivalry in Game 3 was when Pedro Martinez hit Karim Garcia, cleared the benches, before Roger Clemens started a fight with Manny Ramirez for revenge. During the fight, Martinez grabbed Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer by the head and threw him to the ground. The fines were assessed and the tampers were fired through the series.
When the Red Sox forced Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, it seemed the series was destined for a dramatic ending. Enough, of course, to deliver the game.
Martinez started against Clemon in Cleveland, but the Red Sox got the Ace of the Yankees early. With an out and a runner on top of the second, Trott Nixon smashed a homer in the right-center to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Jason Varitek doubled and Enrique Wilson’s foul to put it in the lead. Kevin Miller hit a home run from Clemens at the top of the fourth and after walking and being single, the Red Sox kicked Clemens out of the game and forced Yankee to bring in Mike Musina from the ballpen.
The Yankees added a run back when Jason Giambi returned Martinez on the fifth floor and he slagged another on the seventh floor to make it 4-2, but David Ortiz launched one of his own. David Wells’ eighth to bring back Boston’s lead by three runs.
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Then, Boston began to lose control of the game. On the eighth floor, Derek Jeter doubled with an out and Barney Williams came in to score a single to bring the score to 5-3. Red Sox manager Grady Little Martinez came out to Mb to talk, but decided to leave him. The decision was second-guessed by many, lagging behind. A tiring Martinez Hideki dropped a ground-rule double to Matsui and a two-RBI double to Jorge Posada to tie the match at five. Martinez was then removed from the game. The Yankees picked up two more Berserunas in the innings, including Ruben Sierra, who deliberately walked in and picked up for a pinch-runner named Aaron Boone, but Mike Timlin was stuck at the loaded base.
The ninth and tenth innings went quietly as Timlin and Tim Wakefield met for two scoreless innings outside the bullpen for the Red Sox and Mariano Rivera provided three scoreless frames for the Yankees. But at the bottom of the 11th, the game met its conclusion.
Led by the innings, Boone, now New York’s manager, clings to his name forever in the knowledge of the Yankees, when he saw the first pitch from Wakefield to the left field for a home run in the Nike doubt. The Yankees won the American League again, although they were about to lose the World Series to the Marlins.
Little was sacked after the season, and the Red Sox brought in a 2003 Athletics bench coach, a captain who previously managed Phillies from 1996 to 2000, though never posting a winning season. Enter Terry Francona.
2004 American League Championship Series
For the second year in a row, the American League Pennant will move to one of two Northeast rivals.
This time, though, it looked like there was going to be a lot less drama. The Yankees had the best record in the American League and seemed to be a fugitive favorite for Pennant.
And New York, of course, cemented that status early on. The Yankees took Game 1 10-7, Game 2 3-1 and Game 3 19-8. With only one game needed to win the Pennant in the series -0-0, the Yankees had bottles of champagne on the ice just waiting for this moment.
But the Red Sox did not give up. It took them 12 innings to win Game 4. Tim Wakefield took his revenge in relief and won in walk-off fashion over an Ortiz Homer on the 14th floor of the 5th game. The Red Sox won 4-2, as in the famous “Bloody Sock Game” in Game 6.
Looking for some drama in Game 7? Sorry, it’s not that game. Kevin Brown was the first to drive in two. Johnny Damon beat Boston 0-0 with a Grand Slam at the top of the second. Jeter sang a run below the third, but Damon turned it into an 8-1 game with a two-run homer at the top of the fourth. Yankee added two runs on the seventh floor from Martinez, who came to pitch in relief, but the Red Sox added that run again for a 10-3 win in the eighth and ninth top.
The Red Sox faced the Cardinals, who had the best record in baseball that year with 105 wins, but nothing came of it. Boston had all the momentum and won four straight to win the World Series and claimed the first Fall Classic since 1918.
Other playoff series between the teams
Only three times have the Red Sox and Yankees played a win-or-miss game, but they have met a few more times in the playoffs.
The first meeting took place in 1999, when the two met in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees were in their most recent dynastic run and won the first two games against Boston, before the Red Sox came on board in great fashion, winning 13-1. But the Yankees reached the World Series by beating them 15-3 in the next two games at Fenway Park, where they will win four games against the Braves.
They met most recently at the 2018 ALDS and both teams finished the season with 100-plus-wins. The Red Sox won the first game and the Yankees tied the match in the second, but Boston gave New York its worst defeat in franchise history. They won the next match series 3-1 and the World Series 4-1 against the Dodgers.
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There seems to be a trend in this post-season rivalry matchups. Although in the form of a small sample, the winner has gone to the World Series every time. The winner of the series, including the 1978 Elimination Game, is 4-1 in the World Series. Will the winner reach the fruit class on Tuesday? They have the longest road ahead, to be the winner of the ALDS Ray and White Sox vs Astros matchup.
But if one thing can be expected between these two teams, it is that this game will give fans an exciting matchup to start the 2021 MLB postseason.