As if playing 19 games during the regular season wasn’t enough for one of America’s biggest sports rivalries, the baseball Gods blessed Major League Baseball with one more on Tuesday night, this one for an American League wildcard spot.
It was Game 163 of the season for both teams, who ended the regular season on Sunday with 92 wins and 70 losses each. Ten of the Red Sox’s 92 wins were against the Yankees. Winning the majority of the 19 games gave the Red Sox home field advantage for a single-elimination, loser goes home matchup.
The Red Sox, who were dominated by the Yankees two weekends ago at Fenway Park and swept in their three game series, avenged those defeats with a 6-2 win in the most important game they have played this season in front of a sellout crowd of 38,324.
The Red Sox rocked Yankee ace starter Gerrit Cole, who didn’t live up to his record breaking nine-year, $324 million dollar contract signed in December 2019, the highest ever for a pitcher. He was removed from the game by Yankees manager Aaron Boone in the third inning after giving up a two-run home run to Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the first, and a home run and two walks in the third to put the Yankees in an early 3-0 hole.
“This is the worst feeling in the world,” said a sullen Cole after the game.
The Yankees relievers couldn’t stop the bleeding, giving up three more runs by the eighth inning. First baseman Anthony Rizzo and outfielder Giancarlo Stanton provided the Yankees’ scores, both hitting homers. Stanton also hit two bombs off of Boston’s Green Monster, shots that would have been home runs in most other ballparks.
“The ending is really cruel, but there’s nothing better than competing for something meaningful,” said Boone, trying to turn a negative into a positive. Boone knows the thrill of victory, having hit a series ending, walk-off home run against Boston in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
The Red Sox will now play the AL East division winning Tampa Bay Rays beginning tonight, in the best-of-five American League Division Series.The Rays had the AL’s going 100-62. As good as their regular season record is, it was baseball’s third best, behind the National League West champion San Francisco Giants’ 107-55 and the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers’ 106-56.
As for the Yankees, owner Hal Steinbrenner must determine if the system utilized by general manager Brian Cashman needs to be abandoned. Relying heavily on analytics, the Yankees, with the second highest payroll in baseball at over $200 million (the Dodgers are No. 1), have not won a World Series title since 2009.