(Long Island, N.Y.) Although it didn’t have nearly the same implications as the four-game set in September of 1978, the Yankees certainly sent a message with their trip to Boston this past weekend. Perhaps the only thing that could have prevented a Bombers sweep was the weather, as they carried more than just momentum into the last game.
On Friday night, both teams wore throwback uniforms to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of Fenway Park, which – more often than not – has been a place for clutch Yankee wins. Such was the case with the 6-2 victory in the opener.
“It was a great day,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said to reporters, perhaps referring to both the pregame festivities and his club’s big win. “To me, I’m really glad that we were a part of it. I really am. I loved it.”
But what happened the next evening brought back memories more than three decades old. The Red Sox jumped out to a 9-0 fifth inning lead, but no game is over at Fenway until the 27th out. The Yankees scored 15 unanswered runs and demoralized their oldest rivals, who dropped to 4-10 on the young season.
Their new manager, Bobby Valentine, has been getting raked over the coals by the media and he has even beaten himself up publicly. Perhaps no one was happier to see the downpour of rain postpone the last game than the fiery former Mets manager.
Seeming like two teams going in different directions, the Yanks-Sox rivalry is still sure to heat up as the summer arrives and moves along. Boston has a lot of time to get things right and they still have plenty of talent on their roster, but it’s been a long time since they have been knocked around as often this early in the season. Could this two-game sweep be the first blow of an early knockout? Most of the Red Sox biggest disappointments against the Yankees have come later in the season or during the playoffs. It just wouldn’t be the same without these two ball clubs going at it through September, at least.
Aaron Boone’s walk-off, series clinching extra inning home run was a memorable moment in this rivalry, but it paled in comparison to the drama that occurred nearly 34 years ago. It was mid-July and the Red Sox led the American League East by 14 1/2 games over the Yankees. Going on a torrid run, the Bombers shaved 10 1/2 games off that deficit when they rolled into Beantown for four games in early September.
Outscoring the Sox 42-9 and taking each of the long weekend series matchups evened out the chase for first place and by the time the regular season commenced that was still the case. A one-game play-in game took place at Fenway and Bucky Dent broke the hearts of all of Massachusetts with an unlikely three-run home run over the Green Monster in left field.
The Yankees went on to defeat the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series for their second consecutive championship, rubbing salt in the BoSox wounds.
That may have been the sharpest dagger and this short modern conquest is far from what was christened “The Boston Massacre” after the four-game 1978 crushing. But because of the magnitude that a blown nine-run lead can lead to, we very well may look back on this series and say that it was the death knell of the 2012 Boston Red Sox.