Yankees Vs. Red Sox Rivalry

By BestOdds Analyst | October 6, 2021, 2:29 pm

When discussing the best rivalries in professional sports, it doesn’t take very long to stumble upon the Red Sox vs. Yankees.

For baseball fans, that’s likely the first rivalry thought of, partially because it feels like every game they play against each other is on national television and partially because it’s a crazy rivalry.

It, of course, goes beyond baseball, dating back to the American Revolution when Boston was the cultural center of the United States, but New York began to gain on them.

Then it ratcheted up in baseball when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, but that’s an old story.

What’s new is that when MLB baseball realigned into six divisions, it made postseason matchups possible. And they’ve had some epic ones.

Yankees VS. RedSox Iconic Games

But before the true postseason, they did have one of the most iconic games to get into the playoffs in baseball history. In 1978, the two teams tied for first place with identical 99-63 records.

This is after the Yankees trailed the Red Sox by as many as 14 games in the standings in mid-July. But they came back to force a Game 162 that gave Bucky Dent is colorful “middle” name in Boston forever due to his three-run homer in that game.

In the true playoffs, they first met in 1999 in an American League Championship Series that felt sort of wrong as these two teams are supposed to be competing to get to the playoffs, not to advance in the playoffs.

But the Yankees were in the middle of their dynasty and the Red Sox were no match for them with the Yankees losing just one game to move on to the World Series.

They met again in 2003 and this series was much better, going all seven and the seventh game was another instant classic.

The Yankees were the only team to win two in a row in the series, taking games two and three, but it was a very evenly matched series with both teams having scored 24 runs on their way to three wins apiece. And Game Seven didn’t disappoint.

The Red Sox roared out to a 3-0 lead with a two-run Trot Nixon home run and then an Enrique Wilson error at third allowed Jason Varitek to score.

Some home run derby broke out from there. Kevin Millar and David Ortiz each homered once and Jason Giambi twice and the score was 5-2 Red Sox heading to the bottom of the eighth.

But a three-run inning with RBIs from Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada off Pedro Martinez tied the game until the bottom of the 11th. That was the Aaron Boone moment on the first pitch from Tim Wakefield to send the Yankees to the World Series.

The 2004 Series

But the crescendo of Yankees vs. Red Sox in the postseason was 2004, without a doubt. After getting their hearts ripped out the season before, the Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 series lead.

That’s a series deficit no team had ever come back from in any postseason in baseball history. The Red Sox were dead in the water…again.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth in game four because that’s when the insanity happens. Down 4-3, Kevin Millar walked and Dave Roberts came in on what is likely now the most famous pinch-running appearance in big league history. He went on Mariano Rivera’s first movement on the first pitch and stole the bag.

He came around to score on a Bill Mueller single to tie the game. It would take until the bottom of the 12th for Ortiz to hit a two-run homer off Paul Quantrill to extend the series in a very dramatic fashion.

But that wasn’t the last drama of the series. In game five, the Red Sox were down 4-2 in the eighth when Ortiz hit another clutch home run to make it 4-3. Another Millar walk led to another Roberts pinch-running appearance and another stolen base.

A single and a sacrifice fly scored him to tie that game at 4 and it took until the bottom of the 14th for Ortiz to get yet another huge hit to win that game.

By comparison, the last two of that series were snooze-fests with the Red Sox getting an early lead and holding on to win the series and ultimately their first World Series since 1918.

2018 ALDS Games

It took until 2018 for them to meet again, this time in the ALDS, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting.

Yes, two of the games were one-run games, both won by the Red Sox, but the third Boston win was a 16-1 drubbing and the Yankees’ lone win was a 6-2 game with no drama.

And that brings us to this year’s American League Wild Card game, which is the third postseason double elimination game between the two teams. This was another one that was never in doubt.

The Red Sox jumped out early and the Yankees never truly threatened.

The Rivalry Roundup

Now the history is 23 postseason games, of which the Yankees have won 12. The Red Sox have outscored the Yankees 124-114 in the 23 games. In those 23 games:

  • 13 featured eight or fewer runs
    • Seven were in New York
    • Six were in Boston
  • 12 games have won by the home team
    • But just two of the last seven have won by the home team
  • Eight games were decided by one run
    • Each team has won four one-run games
  • Four games were decided by two runs
    • Each team has won two two-run games
  • Three games were decided by 10 or more runs
    • All three have been won by Boston

These two teams have been evenly matched from the start in the postseason, making any wager on either a difficult one, but the under on the total is typically a safe bet as most games have featured eight or fewer runs.

Otherwise, it’s as tough a call as predicting the games between these two long-time rivals at all.