The 10 Best Red Sox-Yankees Moments of the Decade
With the Red Sox and Yankees meeting again this week, here’s my rundown of the best moments of the past decade in baseball’s greatest rivalry.
There are any number of moments I could have picked. Just missing out were Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of home, the 33 consecutive scoreless innings by Yankee pitching and Mark Teixeira signing with New York over Boston.
Note that, although I’m a Sox fan, I am aiming to be impartial, as evidenced by number 10 on the list.
10. Yankees' five-game sweep at Fenway
August 18-21, 2006
New York swept the Red Sox in a five-game set at Fenway Park, the first such series between the teams in over three decades. It was not just the losses that hurt the Sox, but the manner of them, too. The Yankees scored 47 runs in the first four games and 49 overall. Boston managed just 26 in reply, 11 of them in one game.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner considered the series to be one of the best moments of his time at the team. When asked where the sweep ranked with the World Series won with him at the helm, he replied: “This ranks right at the top because it was for the fans. So many guys delivered.”
9. A-Rod signs with New York
November 2003-February 15, 2004
The Red Sox came incredibly close to landing Alex Rodriguez in the Winter of 2003 to replace Nomar Garciaparra. So close, in fact that the trade was finalized, with A-Rod even agreeing to restructure his contract.
The deal was vetoed by the Player’s Association, however, and the move never happened.
The next month, after being courted by Boston for the entire offseason, Rodriguez signed with the Yankees, went on to win two MVP Awards and become the youngest player in Major League history to hit 500 home runs.
8. Pedro Martinez fights Don Zimmer
October 11, 2003
This ended up being one of the defining images of the rivalry in recent years.
In the fourth inning of Game Three of the 2003 ALCS at Fenway Park, Pedro Martinez hit Karim Garcia with a pitch. In the bottom half of the inning, Roger Clemens threw a fastball high and in to Manny Ramirez. An enraged Manny charged at Clemens and sparked a bench-clearing brawl.
During the fight, Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer charged at Martinez, who stepped aside and threw the 72-year-old to the ground. Some think it was a disgrace for Pedro to lift his hand to him, given his age. Others think Zimmer should have known what would happen if he ran straight at the fiery Martinez.
7. Yankees rout Red Sox 22-1 at Fenway
June 19, 2000
1996-2000 was the most recent Yankee dynasty. In the year of its final World Series crown, 2000, the Yankees handed Boston their worst-ever home defeat, 22-1. They led 6-1 after seven before demolishing their rivals in the late innings.
In the eighth and ninth combined, the Yankees scored 16 times. Eight of their nine starters had a hit and an RBI, five had home runs and Shane Spencer came within a single of hitting for the cycle. The Sox mustered one run on six hits in response and lost first place in the AL East.
April 22, 2007
The Red Sox had failed to reach the playoffs the previous season and were playing their first series of the season against the Yankees. Trailing New York 3-0 in the third, Manny Ramirez, JD Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek, one after the other, went deep off rookie Chase Wright.
It was only the fifth time in Major League history a team had hit four consecutive home runs. Lowell went on to hit another home run to give Boston the win. The game was the final in the series and marked the first time in 17 years the Red Sox had swept the Yankees at Fenway.
5. Damon dons the pinstripes
December 20, 2005
A year after helping Boston break the Curse of the Bambino, fan favorite Johnny Damon’s contract expired. The Red Sox were among the teams that tried to sign the two-time All-Star.
They refused to offer a fourth year, however, and Damon ended up signing with the one team he promised Red Sox Nation he wouldn’t. In December, a clean-shaven Damon appeared at a press conference announcing his signing, a stark contrast to his 'caveman' look when in Boston.
4. Mussina loses perfect game on 27th batter
September 2, 2001
That night, Mike Mussina pitched what was probably the best game of his career. He dueled with ex-Yankee David Cone for a scoreless 8 innings, before the Yankees scored in the top of the ninth. With 2 out, he faced pinch hitter Carl Everett.
Mussina got ahead 0-2, which became 1-2, before Everett singled to left to end the perfect game and no-hitter bid.
He would have been the fourth Yankee to throw a perfect game and it would have been the first ever against the Red Sox. Moose retired the next batter, Trot Nixon, and ended up with a one-hit complete game shutout.
3. Jason Varitek punches A-Rod
July 24, 2004
If there was one moment that sparked the Sox’ 2004 championship run, this was it. At Fenway, Bronson Arroyo hit A-Rod with a pitch, who fumed and glared back towards the pitcher. Jason Varitek stepped in front of him in case he charged the mound.
A-Rod shouted at Varitek, Varitek’s glove met A-Rod’s face, and the benches cleared. Boston staged a comeback to win the game, which ended with Bill Mueller’s walk-off home run off Mariano Rivera.
2. Aaron Boone wins the 2003 ALCS
October 16, 2003
Clearly, if this list were to be compiled by a Yankee fan, this would be number one.
In Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS, Pedro Martinez had a 5-2 lead through seven. Everyone thought he was done for the game—perhaps even himself—except manager Grady Little.
He kept Pedro in the game, who collapsed, allowing New York to tie it. Fast forward to the 11th. Tim Wakefield is on the mound, facing Aaron Boone.
First pitch he sees, Boone smacks a homer to left, winning the game and the series and giving New York their sixth AL pennant in eight years.
1. Red Sox come back from 3-0 down in 2004
October 17-20, 2004
After the classic series the previous year, expectations were high for a repeat performance when the Red Sox and Yankees met again in the ALCS.
New York won the first three games—Game Three being a 19-8 rout at Fenway Park—and led 4-3 in the ninth inning of Game Four with Mariano on the mound.
Kevin Millar drew a leadoff walk and was pinch run for by Dave Roberts. Rivera checked on Roberts three times before delivering a pitch to Bill Mueller. When he did, Roberts stole second. Mueller singled him home to tie the game and the Sox won it in the 12th on a David Ortiz walk-off home run.
Game Five followed a similar path, with Rivera blowing a save in the ninth and Ortiz coming through with a game-winning hit, this time in the 14th.
The injured Curt Schilling pitched seven innings in Game Six, allowing only one run, and the series was knotted.
In Game Seven, the Red Sox offense exploded. Damon belted a two-run homer and a Grand Slam to lead Boston to a 10-3 win and a place in the World Series.