Forty-three years ago, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox met in a one-game playoff to decide the American League East champion at Fenway Park. The two teams were tied at 99-63 for the division lead after 162 games, prompting the tiebreaker.
It was a do-or-die game 16 years before the advent of the wild card. In the end, the Yankees prevailed 5-4 and beat the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason en route to the 1978 World Series title.
On Tuesday at 8:08 p.m. ET, New York and Boston will meet again in a win-or-go-home game, although the stakes are a bit different. This time, the winner will meet the AL East champion Tampa Bay Ray in the AL Divisional Series beginning Thursday.
There will be no shortage of drama as Yankees ace Gerrit Cole and Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi take the mound in hopes of keeping their respective teams' seasons alive.
The early DraftKings Sportsbook odds have the Yanks as a -120 favorite (bet $120 to win $100), while the Red Sox are slight +100 underdogs (bet $100 to win $100). The over/under is 8.5 runs for the matchup, which will air on ESPN.
On paper, this is very tough to call.
Boston obviously has home-field advantage. The Red Sox went 49-32 at Fenway Park this year, and Boston fans promise to be loud, especially if the team jumps out to a good start.
On the flip side, home-field advantage hasn't made much of a difference to the Yanks (matching 46-35 records at home and on the road). New York also just swept Boston at Fenway Park in September.
On the mound, Cole (16-8, 3.23 ERA, 243 K) is a better pitcher than Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 ERA, 195 K), but the former has struggled lately (7.64 ERA last three starts).
Eovaldi recently allowed seven earned runs in 2.2 innings against his old team in the Yanks on Sept. 24, but he's largely excelled since Aug. 11 (3.04 ERA).
At the dish, the Red Sox have a better OPS (.777 vs. .731), but the Yankees have the scariest power bats in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Judge and Stanton each have nine homers since Sept. 11, with the latter player hitting one during each game of the September sweep in Boston.
The X-factor there is the health of JD Martinez (28 HR, 99 RBI, .286 AVG). The 34-year-old suffered a twisted ankle Sunday against the Washington Nationals, and Alex Cora told reporters his status for Tuesday is unknown at this time.
In the bullpen, the Yanks had a better year (3.60 ERA vs. 3.99 ERA). However, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been up and down this year and posted his worst ERA since 2011 (3.36).
Some Yankees have Eovaldi's number.
Judge is 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles and a home run. Anthony Rizzo is 5-for-9 (.555) with three doubles. Stanton has a pair of home runs in 27 at-bats alongside a .831 OPS.
The same could be said for the Red Sox and Cole, with Rafael Devers (three homers in 19 at-bats) and Enrique Hernandez (5-for-11, .455 batting average) leading the way.
In the end, this feels like a coin-flip game, which the odds indicate. The guess here is that Stanton or Judge proves to be the difference with a clutch home run over the Green Monster a la Bucky Dent in 1978.
Pick: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.