In devastating, back-breaking, making-you-look-to-the-heavens-and-beg-for-an-explanation fashion, the Yankees have reversed course of their 0-8 record against the Red Sox this season and turned it into 5-8. Unless the Red Sox figure out how to hit A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, the five wins could easily become seven over the weekend.
Things aren't looking good for the Sox in their hunt for the AL East crown. Their most recent loss drops them to 7 1/2 games in back of the Bronx Bombers with 41 to play, and the Yankees are the hottest team in baseball.
When the Sox last beat the Yankees, finishing a three-game sweep at Fenway Park with a 4-3 win on June 11, the Yankees fell to 34-26, trailing the Red Sox in the East by two games. Since that day, the Bronx nine are 43-19. There will be no overtaking them — you will see Burnett, Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and the rest of the pinstriped multimillionaires in October.
For the Red Sox, playing the Yankees is no longer just about the Yankees. This weekend, the Red Sox aren't just playing to gain a virtually meaningless game or two in the AL East standings — they're playing against the whole AL. The Rangers, the Rays and the Mariners are watching their every move, and a spot in the postseason is at stake.
This year, they're playing not just for a spot in October — they're playing for another shot at these Bronx Bombers.
Let's face it — August hasn't been kind to the Red Sox in their struggle with their hated rivals. They've lost five games by a combined score of 45-23 — they're getting slugged all over the yard. The Yanks have been brutal and they have been merciless.
The Sox' best hope for revenge this season is to get it in October. Give the Sox a couple of months, and their young pitchers (Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Junichi Tazawa) will have a few more innings under their belts. Their disabled list contingent (Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jed Lowrie) will hopefully be healed and ready to contribute. And maybe, if the Sox are lucky, the Yanks' bats will have cooled off.
There's a very good chance that no matter what happens over the remainder of this weekend, both of these teams will end up in October. And if that's the case, the Red Sox will have a shot at getting the last laugh.
It may look unlikely now. If the Sox can lose five straight in August, what are the odds they can win four in October?
Maybe not great. But this is a rivalry built on a foundation of achievements that defy the odds.
What were the odds that the Yankees, trailing the Red Sox by 14 games in July 1978, would come back and win not only the AL East, but the World Series?
What were the odds that the Red Sox, leading the Yanks 5-2 in the eighth inning of Game 7 in 2003, would blow their lead and lose on an Aaron Boone walk-off in the 11th?
What were the odds that a year later, down 0-3 to New York in the ALCS, they'd come back and shock the world with four consecutive wins, making sports history and ultimately capturing their first title in 86 years?
This rivalry is nothing without the freak occurrences that make it memorable. And while the Sox winning the East this season might be too unlikely even for them, that doesn't mean these two teams don't have some more drama awaiting them this calendar year.
The Sox-Yanks rivalry had been in remission for a few years. After the epic October drama of 2004, there was a lull that lasted a few years. But this year, they're back.
No matter what happens this weekend, there will be plenty of bad blood left between these two rivals. Around here, that's how things work.