New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox will revive their rivalry when they meet in the AL wild-card game on Tuesday. And New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, it seems, is well aware of the history between the two teams as he dropped the name that is rarely spoken within the confines of Fenway Park, especially after a light-hitting shortstop decided the last one-game playoff between the Yankees and Sox.
“Bucky Dent, right?” Cole said. “You’re dreaming about putting yourself in that position, and coming through for your team. And here we are.”
Forty-three years after Dent’s homer helped the Yankees beat Boston to break a tie for the AL East title, the teams meet again for one game, with the winner this time advancing to face the Tampa Bay Rays in an AL Division Series.
Cole (16-8) faces Nathan Eovaldi (11-9) in Boston, where Dent homered, where 'Tek shoved A-Rod, where Roger returned, where Pedro pushed Zimmer and where Dave Roberts stole second to make everyone all-but forget about everything that happened up until then.
“There’s a buzz here," said New York manager Aaron Boone, himself a Boston beater with an 11th-inning, walk-off home run in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium.
“It matters here. It’s fun to compete in games here. It’s tough to compete in games here,” Boone said. “Yeah, I think there will be some tension, electricity. Everything you could hope for for a winner-take-all game in the playoffs and two outstanding franchises and teams.”
It will be the fifth time the teams have met in the playoffs — the 1978 tiebreaker counted as part of the regular season — with each club winning twice. In postseason games, New York leads 12-11, but Boston has won seven of the last eight.
Twice series have come down to a win-or-go-home seventh game, in the 2003 and '04 ALCS. Each team has won one of them.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who arrived in Boston as a player in 2005, right after the most recent heyday of the rivalry, said back then it was fueled by players such as David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada.
“It was more about the characters, the players, bigger-than-life," he said. "It was like, ‘Wow, these guys are unbelievable.’
“They used to fight, too, back in the day, so I think that gave it a little bit more for the fan base," Cora said. “We have great players ... two teams are playing for the same thing. Throughout the season, it's been a roller-coaster ride.”
Atlanta Braves-Colorado Rockies game postponed due to soggy field
Red Sox have held the edge over the Yankees for most of the year but fell behind after a New York sweep in Boston from September 24-26. The Red Sox swept the Nationals on the final weekend while the Yankees lost two of three to the AL East champion Rays to finish tied at 92-70; Boston earned home-field advantage by virtue of its 10-9 head-to-head record against New York.
(With inputs from Associated Press)