The New York Yankees are in position to create another lasting memory since the infamous “Boston Massacre” occurred nearly 28 years ago.
The Yankees will try for their first five-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in almost 55 years on Monday afternoon when the AL East rivals meet at Fenway Park.
New York swept four games at Fenway Park from Sept. 7-10, 1978, in the series that’s been dubbed the “Boston Massacre.” The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 42-9 over the four games to pull into a tie for first place in the AL East after trailing by as many as 14 games.
They went on to eliminate the Red Sox in a one-game playoff en route to their 22nd World Series title.
In this wild series, New York (74-48) has outscored Boston 47-25 through four games to increase its AL East lead to a season-high 5 1/2 games. The Yankees are poised for their first five-game sweep of the Red Sox since Sept. 28-30, 1951.
“It’s not fair. Those guys are not playing around,” Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said. “It’s bad, but things can change. We’ve got five weeks to play and we have time to fix this up.”
Jason Giambi homered twice and drove in five runs as the Yankees rallied for an 8-5 victory in 10 innings on Sunday night. Giambi hit a go-ahead leadoff homer in the top of the 10th and Jorge Posada added a two-run shot for the final margin.
Boston (69-54) was one out away from a 5-4 victory before Derek Jeter’s RBI bloop single in the ninth inning off Jonathan Papelbon tied the game. It marked the first run allowed by Papelbon in nine career innings against the Yankees.
The Red Sox had another chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth when they loaded the bases with one out against Mariano Rivera. The Yankees closer, though, recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Eric Hinske and retire Doug Mirabelli on a groundout before pitching the 10th for his fifth victory of the year.
“It might have been the greatest four games I played in my career,” Giambi said. “Both teams are going back and forth like prize fighters. It’s like whoever gets the best at bat.”
Boston’s bullpen has a 12.67 ERA in the series, surrendering at least four runs in each game. The starters haven’t fared much better, posting a 10.02 ERA.
Sunday’s four-hour, 17-minute game also left the Red Sox four games behind the AL wild card-leading Chicago White Sox. The length of the first four contests in this series has averaged over four hours.
Former Yankee David Wells (2-2, 6.06 ERA) will try to help Boston salvage the finale. Wells has won two straight starts after allowing four runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-4 victory over Detroit on Wednesday.
“He just quieted things down a little bit,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “The magnitude of any game isn’t too big for him, and he just goes out and competes and throws what he throws for strikes. When he’s healthy enough to do it, he’s pretty good.”
This is Wells’ first start of the year against New York. Since his last stint with the club ended in 2003, the 43-year-old left-hander is 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in six starts against the Yankees.
Numerous Yankees have solid career numbers against Wells, including Alex Rodriguez (24-for-71), Jeter (19-for-60) and Posada (11-for-32).
Although New York has won all four games in the series, it hasn’t been able to quiet Manny Ramirez. The Boston left fielder is 8-for-11 with seven walks in this set and 25-for-45 with 21 RBIs in 14 games against the Yankees this year.
New York has won eight of its last nine meetings with Boston and six straight at Fenway Park.
Cory Lidle (1-2, 3.86) returns off the bereavement list to make his fourth start for New York. Lidle left the team after his last start Wednesday due to the death of his grandmother.
“I don’t suppose I’ll know exactly what my feelings are going to be, but I learned a while back that you can’t get caught up in any different kind of emotion than if it was any other game,” Lidle said. “Most of my preparation will be telling myself that it’s just another game.”
The right-hander has lost his last two starts after he yielded three runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Baltimore.
Lidle went 1-0 with a 5.56 ERA in two interleague starts against Boston this year while pitching for Philadelphia.