Yanks-Sox rivalry goes up a notch for playoffs

Longtime foes set for fourth postseason series, first in ALDS

October 4th, 2018

The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, one of the most storied in all of sports, dates back more than a century and 2,000 games. It's a matchup rich with tradition and iconic moments -- and yet, these two titanic franchises have only met in the postseason three times.

That changes this week, when baseball fans will be treated to a fourth October meeting -- or fifth, if you want to include the infamous 1978 American League East tiebreaker game -- beginning Friday at Fenway Park in the AL Division Series. The Yankees defeated the A's, 7-2, in Wednesday night's AL Wild Card Game to punch their ticket to the best-of-five showdown against the Red Sox.

:: ALDS schedule and results ::

It's been 14 years since the 2004 AL Championship Series, the last playoff bout in this historic rivalry. Boston manager Alex Cora and New York skipper Aaron Boone were still five-plus years away from retiring as players. Longtime Yankee was playing baseball at the College of Charleston and wouldn't even be drafted for another year. Yankees rookie shortstop was only 7, and Red Sox star had just turned 12.

"I think, at that time, I didn't even have a TV," said Yankees pitcher , who was 10, growing up in the Dominican Republic.

Both clubs are among the favorites for this year's World Series crown, as it's the first year in which the Red Sox and Yankees both won at least 100 games. Boston had the slight edge in the regular season, winning the series, 10-9, and has home-field advantage throughout the postseason after finishing with an MLB-best 108-54 record and winning the AL East over New York (100-62). The ALDS will open with games at Fenway Park on Friday and Saturday before transitioning to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Tuesday, if necessary. If the series goes to Game 5, it will be at Fenway Park next Thursday.

"We want Boston. They took the division from us. We want to take it back from them," Yankees first baseman said after Wednesday's AL Wild Card Game win. "Boston and the Yankees are the oldest rivalry in sports. Hearing the Stadium tonight, I can't imagine what [playing] Boston is going to be like. It's something I'm super excited for."

In anticipation of the next installment of this longstanding rivalry, here's a look back at the first three playoff meetings, plus the 1978 tiebreaker game:

2004 ALCS

Red Sox won, 4-3, then defeated Cardinals in World Series

The Red Sox finally got their revenge in 2004 en route to their first World Series championship since 1918. And they did so in dramatic fashion, becoming the first team in MLB history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a postseason series. New York and Boston met again in the ALCS, the Yankees as the AL East champs and Red Sox as the AL Wild Card team.

Yankees starter Mike Mussina pitched six perfect frames to start Game 1, before the Red Sox finally got to him in the seventh. New York withstood a late seven-run rally by Boston to take the opener, then defeated Martinez in Game 2 and dominated for a 19-8 win as the series moved to Fenway Park for Game 3.

The Yankees appeared primed to sweep the Red Sox in Game 4, taking a one-run lead into the ninth inning with their All-Star closer on the mound. But Dave Roberts' clutch steal set up Bill Mueller's game-tying single, and David Ortiz delivered his second walk-off homer of the postseason with a two-run shot in the 12th that sparked Boston's remarkable four-game comeback. Ortiz, the ALCS MVP, was also the hero in Game 5 with a walk-off single in the 14th.

Game 6 featured Curt Schilling's infamous bloody sock, as the right-hander pitched seven innings of one-run ball with an injured ankle and the Red Sox rode a four-run fourth to victory. Boston's potent offense was on full display in the series clincher; the Red Sox scored six runs in the first two frames -- including a grand slam by Johnny Damon -- and won, 10-3, to advance to the World Series and eventually end their 86-year title drought.

2003 ALCS

Yankees won, 4-3, then lost to Marlins in World Series

The AL Wild Card Red Sox wiped out New York's home-field advantage with a win in the opener behind a strong performance from starting pitcher Tim Wakefield, but the Yankees reclaimed the series lead with wins in Games 2 and 3. The third game featured a rematch between Martinez and Clemens, but this time Clemens got the better of his counterpart in a one-run victory.

Boston won Game 6 to push the series to seven games, and the climactic Game 7 didn't disappoint as the Yankees and Red Sox delivered an all-time classic.

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead with two of their 12 home runs in the series -- a two-run shot from Trot Nixon off Clemens and a solo homer from Kevin Millar -- but the Yankees stormed back and sent the game to extras with a three-run eighth inning vs. Martinez. Yanks closer Mariano Rivera came on for the ninth and turned in a dominant three-inning performance, and New York clinched the series in the 11th as Boone launched Wakefield's first knuckleball into the stands for a walk-off home run.

1999 ALCS

Yankees won, 4-1, then defeated Braves in World Series

MLB's realignment in 1994 added one Wild Card spot to each league, making it possible for New York and Boston to both reach the postseason out of the AL East. And in 1999, it happened. The Yankees won the division and swept the Rangers in the ALDS. The Red Sox finished four games out of first but secured the AL Wild Card berth and defeated the Indians in five games in the ALDS.

New York would keep rolling against Boston, taking the first two games of the ALCS, but by one-run margins. The Yankees needed a walk-off homer from Bernie Williams in extra innings to win the opener in the Bronx, and they came from behind for a one-run win in Game 2.

The Red Sox and Pedro Martinez handed the Yankees their only loss of the 1999 postseason in Game 3, scoring five runs in two innings against Roger Clemens and winning, 13-1, when the series transitioned to Fenway Park. The Yanks then rebounded to decisively win the next two games in Boston to clinch the AL pennant before sweeping the Braves in the World Series.

1978 AL East tiebreaker game

Yankees won, 5-4, then defeated Royals in ALCS and Dodgers in World Series

The 1978 AL East tiebreaker game -- "the Bucky Dent game," in Yankees-Red Sox lore -- was technically a one-game extension to the regular season, but for all intents and purposes, it was a winner-take-all playoff to decide the fate of the division.

The Bronx Bombers had trailed the Red Sox by 14 games as late as July 19, but they staged a huge rally down the stretch capped by a four-game sweep of the Sox in Boston in mid-September to pull even in the standings. The Yankees took over first place a few days later, and they held a one-game lead over the Red Sox entering their regular-season finales, but New York lost and Boston won to finish tied for first and force the one-game tiebreaker on Oct. 2 at Fenway Park.

It was a thriller. The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead into the top of seventh inning thanks to a solo home run by Carl Yastrzemski and an RBI single by Jim Rice, both off Ron Guidry. But in the seventh, the Yankees put two runners on, and Dent belted the go-ahead three-run homer in one of the most iconic moments in the long history of the rivalry. New York would tack on two more runs (including a homer by Reggie Jackson), then hold on for a 5-4 win, with Goose Gossage retiring Rice and Yastrzemski to end the game and send the Yanks to the postseason. They would go on to win the World Series.