Seldom over the past 20 years has the disparity between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees been as pronounced as it was Monday night.
Start with the difference in the standings.
While the Yankees already have clinched a spot in the playoffs and are vying with the Baltimore Orioles to win the AL East, the Red Sox are playing out the final few games of their first 90-loss season since 1966. Boston is 24 games out of first place and will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year, having not won a postseason series since 2008.
But it goes beyond that.
With neither Dustin Pedroia nor Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup for the series opener against the Yankees, only two of the Red Sox's nine position players Monday night began the season in the majors. And neither right fielder Cody Ross nor catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia were considered cornerstones of a lineup that was believed to be littered with All-Stars.
Including pitcher Clay Buchholz, the approximate combined salary of the Red Sox's starters was $13 million. The Yankees had five players in their lineup -- Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, Derek Jeter, CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki -- whose individual annual salaries are greater than $13 million.
And so, it was little wonder that the Red Sox lost for the 10th time in 11 games, falling 10-2. Yet somehow, manager Bobby Valentine sounded an optimistic tone that the overmatched Sox could still potentially spoil the Yankees' bid to win the division.
"I'd like to play the best game we can possibly play, and if it turns out we're winning at the end, I know that will make our team feel a little better because we haven't won in a while," Valentine said. "And it'll make our fans feel a lot better. That's the reason we play."