With the players’ arrival at spring training 2.0 yesterday, one of the many things to look forward to is the opening of a new chapter on the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry which has seen no shortage of vintage moments even in recent years. However, there are still a couple days left before activities resume, so we have some time remaining to reminisce. And it being Rivalry Week here at SBNation, what better way to celebrate the history between the two teams than to look back at the greatest Yankees victories over the Red Sox.
5. Dave Righetti’s no-hitter
In one of the instant-classic Independence Day games in Yankees and baseball history, Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox in the Bronx on July 4, 1983. The Yankees were in the midst of an East Division battle with the Orioles. The Yankees lefty was about to turn in one of the finest pitching outings in Yankees history. Years later, Righetti revealed the kinds of thoughts swirling through a pitcher’s head as they stand on the cusp of history.
My biggest worry, because I had a tendency to fall toward third base, was him (Boggs) tapping a ball between me and Mattingly and me trying to get to first base...I threw a lot of fastballs during the at bat, but the last slider I ended up throwing, he happened to miss it. Thank goodness.
Striking out nine en route to a 4-0 victory, Righetti became the first Yankee to throw a no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1953 World Series. Perhaps this was just the spark the Yankees needed to make a second-half push toward the postseason. Alas, it was not meant to be, with the Yankees finishing the season seven game out of playoff contention, but this game remains one of the greatest Yankees pitching performances against the Red Sox.
One of the signature moments in all of baseball history also happened in a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. On the last day of the regular season in 1961, Roger Maris stood tied with Babe Ruth for the single-season home run record with 60. Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Yankees lefty delivered an iconic moment that still resonates in halls of Americana.
The Yankees ended up winning the game 1-0 en route to their 19th title and Maris’ second straight AL MVP award. Just as famous as the home run itself was the asterisk that, deserved or not, hung attached to the homer for many years. MLB commissioner and noted Babe Ruth friend Ford Frick decreed that the home run should enter the history books with a “distinctive mark,” as it occurred in the 162nd while Ruth achieved his feat in 154. Also interesting was the amount of stress Maris felt pursuing the record, as he received death threats and literally lost hair as he closed in on the mark.
3. The Boston Massacre
This victory is actually four games as opposed to one, yet still deserves recognition for its importance in the history of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Entering the home stretch of the 1978 season, the Yankees rode into Fenway trailing the Red Sox by four games in the East Division. What happened between September 7th and September 10th can only be described as a massacre.
The Yankees clobbered the Red Sox 15-3 on 21 hits in game one, including knocking former Bomber Mike Torrez out early, setting an ominous tone for what was to come over the following three days. Game two was just as lopsided, with Bill “Spaceman” Lee surrendering 13 runs on 17 hits, the game finishing at 13-2. The third game carried the promise of a pitcher’s duel, with Ron Guidry entering the game at 20-2 with a 1.84 ERA against Boston ace Dennis Eckersley. Only Guidry delivered on this promise, pitching 8.2 no-hit innings after a leadoff single in a 7-0 victory. The 7-3 win in the series finale put the Yankees tied for first atop the AL East leaderboard, and set the stage for one of the greatest games in the teams’ historic rivalry.
2. Bucky F*ing Dent
The Yankees and Red Sox finished the 1978 regular season tied for the AL East lead. Therefore, the two teams faced off in a tie-breaker game on October 2nd at Fenway Park to determine who would face the Royals in the ALCS. Losing 2-0 in the top of the seventh inning, light-hitting Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent stepped to the plate.
With a bat he borrowed from Mickey Rivers, Dent deposited a 1-1 cookie from Mike Torrez over the Green Monster to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. This shot was the coup de grâce in erasing the Boston’s 14-game July lead, and the shot in the arm needed for the Yankees to defend their World Series crown. Bucky Dent won the MVP in that Fall Classic series, and cemented himself as a villain in Boston sports history with his October heroics for the Yankees.
1. Aaron F*ing Boone
When the Yankees traded for Aaron Boone at the 2003 trade deadline, I’m not sure many fans could predict postseason heroics, and given his .254 average and six home runs in 54 regular season games for the Yankees, the prospect of such a feat seemed even less likely. Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the eleventh after the Yankees clawed back from a 4-0 deficit, Boone stood in to face Tim Wakefield. Wakefield had already pitched a clean bottom of the tenth, while this was Boone’s first plate appearance after replacing Ruben Sierra as a pinch runner in the bottom of the eighth.
Against all odds, Boone crushed the first pitch he saw, a hanging knuckleball, deep into the left field seats to send the Bronx crowd into pandemonium and the Yankees to the the World Series. The home run remains to this day the only walk-off in a League Championship Series Game Seven. And although the Yankees would go on to be embarrassed at the hands of the upstart Florida Marlins, Boone’s iconic home run will forever live as one of the greatest moments not only in Yankees vs. Red Sox history, but in all of Yankees history.
With a rivalry as long and storied as Yankees vs. Red Sox, there were so many games to choose from, and invariably some may have been left out. As always, let me know in the comments if you think of any other games that deserved to make this list.