With Friday’s 3-2 win in a series opener at Fenway Park, New York kept alive a trend that has existed for the better part of the most intense decade in the history of the rivalry. Since 2002, the Yankees have gone a measly 38-58 against Boston prior to the All-Star break, but 50-31 after it, turning the tables in dramatic fashion on their longstanding rivals.
This season could see more of the same if Friday night is any indication.
The Red Sox won eight of nine meetings prior to the break, but will have to win a CC Sabathia–John Lackey matchup to avoid falling to 0-2 after intermission.
To the players on the losing side, it’s far too early to worry about historical patterns.
“We’re not looking into the future,” said Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Tomorrow’s the game we got to worry about, not six weeks down the road.”
Both teams are probably going to make the playoffs. Still, their race has meaning, as the winner opens the postseason at home while the loser may have to head to a place like Texas. And if there is a meeting in the ALCS, it cannot hurt to have home-field advantage.
“We definitely want to finish first,” Boston left fielder Carl Crawford said.
Friday night was only one game, but again, it is keeping with historical trends. And some of that history is rather recent.
It was in 2009 that the Sox swept all eight meetings with the Yanks prior to the Midsummer Classic, entering the break with a three-game lead in the American League East. New York won nine of 10 games post-break to run away with the division en route to its 27th World Series crown.
So, does it mean much that the Yankees took the series opener to reclaim first place for the first time in a month?
Never one to sweat the small stuff, Adrian Gonzalez spoke on behalf of the Red Sox when pressed on the matter.
“We’ve got two months,” he said.
Indeed, they do. But if history is any indication, it will be a one-sided stretch.