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Red Sox Comeback Against The Yankees Falls Short, But They Did Fight Each Other So Rivalry Back On

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

I’ve been waiting for this shit for a loooong time. I hated the fake, fabricated “rivalry” bullshit that the networks and the social media teams would feed the fanbases on both sides to draw more viewers. I mean, I get it. It’s a selling point, but it was very much forced. Then you get these chirps like, “Oh, what are you above the rivalry now?” Nah, dude. It just wasn’t there. It’ll never truly die, but it has been dormant since 2006. The last time it was really a thing was when Johnny Damon signed with the Yankees after saying that he’d never sign there.

After that, the Red Sox and Yankees were just never really good at the same time. You didn’t have superstars jumping ship one way or the other either, unless you want to count Jacoby Ellsbury, and I’ll just stop that sentence right there. The last one was Damon, and that was over ten years ago. And then there’s the biggest factor of them all — Boston and New York haven’t met in the postseason since the legendary 2004 American League Championship Series. I’d even go as far as to say that the Rays and Orioles have been bigger rivals to the Red Sox over the last decade than the Yankees.

Sure, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera deserved the respect that they got from the Fenway crowd, but there’s no chance in hell that they would’ve gotten the big ass ceremonies and standing ovations that they received in 2013 and 2014 if their entire careers played out exactly the same way, only they retired in 1999 and 2000. It just wasn’t happening back then. Since their last showdown in October, the Red Sox have won three World Series titles, which took a lot of juice out of the rivalry. The biggest reason for all the tension between them was Boston feeling like, “Motherfucker, you guys win ALL THE TIME. Just let us have ONE.” And then they won three, the first of which came at the Yankees’ expense, as New York became the first team in baseball history to lose a best of seven series after holding a 3-0 lead at the hands of the Red Sox.

Every rivalry promo since that chapter has felt like a, “Hey, remember that time!” type deal. It just wasn’t there. But now? Oh, buddy. The rivalry is BACK. You have a strong core on the Red Sox side with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers. On the Yankees side, you’ve got Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, and Greg Bird (when he’s healthy). New York supplemented their core with Giancarlo Stanton, and Boston supplemented their core with JD Martinez. The Red Sox hired former Boston fan favorite Alex Cora as their new manager, and the Yankees hired Red Sox villain Aaron Boone as theirs. Now we’re cookin’ with gas.

Game one of the series with Luis Severino on the mound versus Chris Sale; it just felt different. The rivalry meter was creeping up a bit. A lot of it was just the fact that Stanton was in pinstripes, making his debut at Fenway Park as a Yankee, and the Bronx Bombers returning to Boston after losing the division, but making it further in the postseason last October. They just felt like a much more worthy adversary this time around, as they should.

In game two of the series, well, fuck. It’s on now. And I’ll be honest with you here — I didn’t hate the slide. I hate the rule. I hate that guys can’t slide hard into second base anymore. Obviously you don’t want to see anybody get hurt, and the rule was designed to protect middle infielders, but that was just a part of the game that you loved to see as a fan. A hard slide into second base to break up a double play was something that rewarded hustle, and rightfully so.

Where this all stemmed from, though, was Tyler Austin going in spikes up. I don’t mind a hard slide whatsoever, but spikes up is going to piss off the other team ten times out of ten. After the game, Brock Holt admitted that Austin’s slide cut his calf open. Now, was it intentional? No. I don’t think Austin had any intent to hurt Holt in the least bit, but he definitely had intention to break up the double play, which is why I hate the rule. You should still be able to do that, but it is what it is. The slide was ruled clean by the umpires, and the Red Sox decided to take matters into their own hands.

Joe Kelly drilled Austin in the seventh inning. Knowing that it was intentional because Kelly had tried and failed to hit him earlier in the at-bat, Austin slammed his bat down and started to walk out to the mound. I think Austin expected Christian Vazquez to get in between him and Kelly before anything major could go down, but Vazquez never did that. By that point, Kelly was essentially telling Austin to get his ass out there if he was gonna do something, so Austin’s hands were tied and off he went to mix it up with Kelly.

What you can take from this is that A.) The obvious one — the rivalry is back, B.) This Red Sox group is tight as fuck to waste no time retaliating for Holt getting spiked, and C.) This Red Sox team doesn’t lay down and die. David Price left this game after just one inning, the shortest outing of his career, following a four-run frame and an apparent injury. It was looking like it was about to be a long ass night, but the Red Sox offense still made a game out of it.

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After the game, we learned that Price was pulled from his start due to numbness in his fingers, which doesn’t sound particularly good. He made sure to mention that his elbow and his arm felt fine and that his “hand never really warmed up.” I’m throwing the challenge flag here, because it was slightly colder on Opening Day (40 degrees) when he threw seven shutout innings than it was on Wednesday night (42 degrees). Not buying the cold excuse, but Price also said that he’s going to play catch on Thursday and still expects to make his next start.

Despite the losing effort, it was great to see JD Martinez have a breakout moment. With the Red Sox trailing 8-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Martinez hammered a grand slam to dead center to make it a two-run game. The Red Sox didn’t hit any grand slams last year, and now it feels like they hit one every game. It’s crazy. But that was a big, big spot for Martinez to come up huge in, so we’ll take a silver lining there. In his last five games, Martinez is hitting .300 with a 1.068 OPS in 22 plate appearances.

So, for the first time in two weeks, the Red Sox have lost a baseball game. It was bound to happen, but still one hell of a run to win nine straight games after Kelly blew Opening Day in Tampa. And even though this game ended up in the loss column for Boston, it sure as hell says a lot that they were down 8-1 at one point, lost their starter after the first inning, and still came back to make this a winnable game.

Oh, and if you think that the beanball stuff is over and settled between these two teams, think again.

Final score: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7