BOSTON (AP)—The champagne had a brief wait and a short trip after the New York Yankees clinched the AL East at Fenway Park.
A day later, across the diamond, the Boston Red Sox joined their longtime rivals in the playoffs.
“Both of these teams went through a lot this year,” said Curt Schilling, who shut the Yankees down long enough for the Red Sox to win 10-1 on Sunday and grab the AL wild-card berth. “To be where we are says as much about the people as it does about the talent.”
Reigning World Series MVP Manny Ramirez hit a three-run homer and also threw out Derek Jeter from the outfield to put Boston in the playoffs for a franchise-record third consecutive year. The Red Sox open on Tuesday at Chicago with Matt Clement facing Jose Contreras.
New York’s loss meant it will start the postseason Tuesday in Anaheim rather than at home against the Los Angeles Angels.
Schilling (8-8) held the Yankees scoreless for five innings; by that time, the Cleveland Indians had already lost 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox and assured Boston of the AL’s last playoff spot. The outfield message boards posted matching congratulations—one for the Red Sox and one for the Yankees, who celebrated in Fenway Park’s visitor’s clubhouse on Saturday after clinching the AL East.
“That’s got to be a first, huh?” Jeter said. “Two teams playing each other, clinching in the same stadium.”
The Red Sox and Yankees each finished the year 95-67, though the Fenway scoreboard listed them alphabetically, with Boston ahead of New York. But the Yankees actually took the division title because they beat the Red Sox 10-9 in the season series.
“Co-division champs. That’s what I’m calling it,” Red Sox owner John Henry said. “I can understand why there isn’t (a playoff), but frankly, I would have liked to have had one. It would have been nice to settle the division championship.”
The Angels also finished 95-67 and earned the home-field advantage against the Yankees because they won the season series 6-4.
Cleveland’s game ended when Jason Varitek was at-bat in the bottom of the fifth. Red Sox management hugged in their box seats next to the field, and Henry passed the word along to the dugout.
After Varitek singled, the Fenway video screen showed a shot of the manual scoreboard at the base of the Green Monster. The “9” next to the White Sox and Indians score came out, indicating a final, and the sold-out crowd stood and cheered.
“In my whole career, I’ve never seen this type of race that you had to wait for the last day,” said David Wells, who will follow Matt Clement in the playoff rotation against the White Sox. “There’s so many teams that are involved. You’ve got to smile because we’re in it.”
By the time this one was over, the starters were out of the game and the much-anticipated season finale had the look of a spring training game, except for the chill in the air and the anticipation of a possible playoff rematch.
“There’s a chance we’ll meet again,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “If it does happen, it’ll be a shootout.”
The Red Sox counted down the last three outs with giant numbers on an outfield scoreboard. Many of the fans had left because of the blowout, but they cheered each pitch to Bubba Crosby. When he struck out looking to end the game, the team that dubbed itself the “idiots” last year poured out of the dugout for a mild celebration on the mound.
“Even idiots can grow up a little bit,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “It should be a bit more subdued. … The first celebration should be subdued, and the fourth one should be crazy.”
Doug Mirabelli also homered for Boston, making it 10-1 in the sixth with a three-run shot that bounced off the base of the flagpole that holds the 2004 World Series Champion pennant.
The Red Sox have not repeated as World Series champs since 1915-16.
Now they’ll have a chance.
Jaret Wright (5-5) subbed for Mike Mussina, who will start Tuesday against the Angels. Jason Giambi, who has been bothered by back spasms, was the only other New York regular to take the day off. Wright allowed three runs, three hits and five walks in 3 1-3 innings.
The big hit in the inning came from Ramirez, who even hustled around the bases—after his usual pause to watch the ball bounce into the center-field bleachers. It was his 45th homer of the year, matching a career high; he has nine homers and 19 RBIs in his last 12 games.
Ramirez threw out Jeter when he tried to stretch a Wall shot into a double in the first. Jeter slid headfirst into second base and walked off the field gingerly but stayed in the game until the fourth. The Yankees announced that he was taken out so that he could keep his knee iced as a precaution.
“Jeter’s OK,” Torre said. “He was a little gimpy.”
Although the Yankees had a chance to avoid a trip to California after the game, their victory on Saturday deprived the ballpark of the drama of the winner-take-all playoff on Oct. 2, 1978—exactly 27 years earlier—that Bucky Dent won with his popup into the Green Monster’s net.
Schilling gave up singles to three of the first four hitters, but Jeter was erased on Ramirez’s play and the others were stranded when Hideki Matsui grounded out to first.
Schilling tied Mickey Lolich on the strikeout list with 2,832. … The Red Sox hold a 36-35 edge over the Yankees since the start of the 2003 season. They’ve each won one AL pennant. … Ramirez, who also walked twice, was 17-for-44, a .386 batting average in his last 12 games. … Ortiz had a single, two walks, a strikeout and ended the season with a .300 batting average (.2995008). … Rodriguez went 0-for-3 and won the AL home run race over Ortiz 48-47. … Rodriguez and Jeter finished first and second in runs scored in the AL, the first time the Yankees accomplished that since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris each scored 132 runs in 1961.