Red Sox and Yankees Appear to Have Different Dates With Destiny
Boston Red Sox, American League East champions.

Those seven words have a nice ring for Red Sox Nation. For Yankees fans, it could mean the beginning of a very bad dream.

But if the pinstripes don’t want the division title (which is how it seems), the Red Sox will gladly take it.

With 14 regular-season games to play, Boston sits just five games behind New York in the East standings. And the way both teams are playing — the Red Sox have gone 9-1 since Sept. 9 while the Yankees have gone 5-5 — that lead is anything but insurmountable.

Look at the schedules. Everything favors Boston down the stretch.

The Red Sox still have 11 games against below-.500 teams. They begin this week with four games in Kansas City, then travel to the Bronx for a three-game set with the Yankees, before concluding the regular season with seven games at home (three with Toronto and four with Cleveland). And the Red Sox play baseball in Fenway Park about as well as Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights in Las Vegas.

The Yankees, meanwhile, play nine of their last 12 regular-season games against above-.500 teams — three against the Angels in Anaheim, three against the Red Sox at home and three against the Rays at Tropicana Field to wrap up the regular season. The only cupcake left for New York is a three-game set with the Royals at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 28-30.

Normally, a five-game lead for the Yankees with two weeks to play would be a reason to put the champagne on ice and wrap the clubhouse in plastic.

But not this year.

Not when the Red Sox are turning into the fastest car in the world, and the Yankees can only count on two starting pitchers to deliver quality outings.

Not when the Red Sox have enough arms to stock a gun show, and the Yankees bullpen has more holes than a pair of seven-year-old sweat socks.

Not when the Red Sox are sweeping the Orioles, and the pinstripes are losing series to the Birds.

And not when the Red Sox look revived, and the Yankees look out of sync.

Times have changed. The Red Sox have turned the tables.

The Yankees are no longer the team that’s guaranteed to step on the gas in September and charge into October as the team to beat. And the Red Sox are no longer the team that’s guaranteed to suffer monumental defeats and spend all winter wondering what went wrong.

The Yankees haven’t won the World Series since 2000, and only four players on their current roster — Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera — were a part of that championship club. The House That Ruth Built has a date with a wrecking ball. The aura of invincibility that defined the Yankees for generations is now a relic that only exists in history books and on ESPN Classic. If any team is going to get the yips these days, it’s not going to be Boston.

The Red Sox have experience closing deals this millennium, and they also have the Yankees in their crosshairs. If Boston can win the AL East and make New York settle for the wild card, the Red Sox are going to build confidence for a deep postseason run and leave plenty of doubt in the minds of the Yankees.

The Jets might have gotten the better of the Patriots in their first test on the gridiron. But the Red Sox are showing no signs of collapsing at the finish line this year, and they’re looking forward to bringing some pain to New York on the diamond.