Reigniting the Rivalry: Sox, Yanks in heated battle for AL East Title

In 2009, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was at its peak. Big Yankee names like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera clashed against Red Sox legends David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester, proving to the rest of the league that their rivalry was unlike any other. 

But over the past eight years, the strength of the rivalry has dwindled each season. 

Until now. 

The Yankees and Red Sox haven’t been in the playoffs together since 2009, but this year looks promising for both clubs. Over this 8-year span, the Red Sox have outplayed the Yankees, plain and simple. The Sox won the World Series in 2013 and won the AL East in 2016, whereas the Yankees only have one playoff berth since winning the AL East in 2012. This season, however, the Yankees and Red Sox have been virtually neck-and-neck, switching positions at first and second a handful of times.

The most recent series between the two teams, their final matchup of the regular season, did not disappoint. The Yankees won the four-game series three to one, putting them 3.5 games behind the Sox with a little under one month left of the season. Going into the series, the Yankees had lost their last three games after getting swept by the Indians, so this series was crucial to staying in the race for top of the AL East. Luckily for the Yankees, the Baby Bombers came in hot. In the first game of the series, Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez rocked the Sox with one home run each. Boston got their revenge in game two, getting the best of Sonny Gray. Benintendi continued his phenomenal rookie season by taking Gray deep, which might be a common theme for Benintendi for years to come if he’s able to keep up this caliber of play. While the Yankees and Gray took the loss, they bounced back in game three behind Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Holliday. Although Tanaka has been shaky in 2017 and there’s much speculation regarding his contract at the end of the season, he performed well on Saturday, proving his value to the Yankees as well as future suitors. Matt Holliday, who was recently activated from the disabled list, hit a three-run bomb that gave Tanaka some breathing room and ultimately the win.

On Sunday evening, Chris Sale, the Sox’s ace and potential AL Cy Young Award winner, took the mound hoping to even the series. However, he was pummeled by the Yankee bats. Chase Headley and Todd Frazier went back-to-back off of Sale, which is almost unheard of against a pitcher of his ability. Later, Aaron Judge took Sale yard with a deep blast to left, his first homer run in over two weeks. The Yankees’ bats, plus a dominant Severino with nine strikeouts over six innings, equaled a Yankees series win.

While the Red Sox still sit atop the division, the series loss to the Yankees lessened the gap. Anything can happen within these last few weeks of the season and it is vital for both the Yanks and Sox to keep pace in the standings or they could possibly fall out of playoff contention. Regardless of the playoff position, one thing is for certain: the Yankees-Sox rivalry is back, and better than ever.

Contact David Minster at [email protected].