The New York Yankees will head to historic Fenway Park to take on the Boston Red Sox in a four game series from September 11 to September 14, 2023.
The two clubs have failed to meet up to the lofty expectations they have earned this season, but whether they are playing for pride or vying for a last-gasp attempt at the postseason as they face off against one another, you can be certain that you will not want to miss the final chapter of this year’s edition of the showdown.
The fierce, storied rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees hardly needs any introduction. It is one of the most bitter rivalries in all of sports, and it is hard to do justice to everything that has gone down between both sides over the past 104 years since the Red Sox ignited it by trading famed pitcher and slugger Babe Ruth to the Yankees, kickstarting decades of despair for Boston while igniting one of the greatest dynasties the sporting world has ever seen in the Bronx.
Not Just Another Year…
We have seen the rivalry take on a number of different forms over the past decade. The two clubs met in the postseason in 2018 and 2021, and we have seen some fierce, neck and neck pennant races as each of the two vies for a shot at the American League East division crown down the stretch. This year it has looked a bit different, as the Red Sox and Yankees are both on the outside looking in at both the AL East race and the chase for a wild card bid.
Their division is extremely top heavy, with the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays slotting in as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the American League as of the end of play on August 23, and with only three wild card spots to compete for, at least one of the teams is certain to get left out of the postseason.
Right now, the Red Sox sit four games out of the last wild card spot, as well as three games behind another AL East rival left just outside of the current playoff picture, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox will have to play some catch up (and some leapfrog) in order to sneak their way into the season, and punching down against this Yankees team is one way that they can stack up wins as the days on the calendar continue to burn away.
The Yankees, on the other hand, would certainly love to have the opportunity to play the spoiler, putting the Red Sox playoff dreams to bed for good.
…But Still Burning Bright
To hear Boston fans tell it, there is not much of a rivalry this season. The Red Sox have throttled the Yankees this season, winning eight of the nine games they have played against one another and outsourcing them by 28 runs in doing so.
Just because the Red Sox are taking care of business on the field, though, does not mean that the mutual disdain does not remain.
The Red Sox lit up Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (the presumptive AL Cy Young award winner this season, as he continues to put together an excellent campaign despite this hiccup) to the tune of six earned runs across four innings pitched in the Bronx on August 19, 2023.
After the game, Cole added fuel to the fire by leveling thinly-veiled accusations against the Red Sox, seeming to accuse them of cheating. “Obviously not my best stuff today. I put a lot of well-located pitches and paired a lot of good pitches together. I am just a little bit confused on why the level of execution on their side is so high,” Cole said. “For whatever reason, they were extra focused and able to bring out their best bullets today. Not only did they capitalize on poor pitches, but they capitalized on really, really good pitches.”
Red Sox’ second baseman Luis Urias hit a grand slam in the series against the Yankees, while Boston pitcher Kutter Crawford outdueled Cole, with Red Sox pitchers only allowing two hits on the day. Yankees’ rookie Anthony Volpe nearly played the hero in the last game of the recent series, hitting a game-tying three-run home run in the seventh inning as he announced his presence in the rivalry in a big way, but the Red Sox still managed to steal the win with an RBI double from Justin Turner, who has established himself as a villain to New York this season with a number of big games.
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Who Ya Got?
For decades it was the Yankees who tormented the Red Sox, always a step or two ahead of their northern rivals as they racked up an astonishing 26 World Series titles in the years between 1919 and 2000, a span where the Red Sox just couldn’t get it done, embarking on an 86 year championship drought.
Since the Red Sox’ magical 2004 season, where they completed a reverse sweep of the Yankees in the American League Championship Series, fighting back from a 3-0 series deficit to claim the pennant with four straight wins, the opposite has rung true. While the Red Sox may only have one-third of the championship rings that the Yankees do, the little brother has been punching back with gusto, winning the past three playoff series they’ve played against the Bronx Bombers, including that fateful series in 2004.
This year it has been more of the same, as the Red Sox hold a 67-60 record as of the end of play on August 23, 5.5 games better than the Yankees’ uncharacteristic 61-65 season.
In many ways, the difference can be chalked up to that 8-1 record that Boston possesses against New York: it looks like the Red Sox just have the Yankees’ number this year, and I expect that to continue as Boston desperately tries to make up ground in the playoff race.
They probably are not going to win every game, but I’d expect the Red Sox to take at least three of four against a hapless Yankees crew.