By Jack Belanger ’21
After the first week of the Major League Baseball season, there is already plenty of excitement around the league. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is showing he can dominate on, the mound, and at the plate, the Astros strong play has carried over from last year, and the Mets have surprisingly jumped out hot to start the year. The most interesting storyline this year could be the potential resurgence of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, who played their first series this week.
Both teams added fuel to fire this offseason as the Yankees hired Red Sox enemy Aaron Boone as their new manager and signed 2017 home run leader Giancarlo Stanton.
The Sox made moves of their own by signing outfielder J.D. Martinez and hiring former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora as their manager. Making the playoffs is not the goal for these teams as both owners expect their teams to compete for a title year in and year out. This year, the teams could potentially meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Coming into their first series of the season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Yankees each pegged their top three starters to pitch in the series. Each team sent their ace out for the first game as Boston’s Chris Sale faced off against New York’s Luis Severino. Sale pitched like the true ace he is and only gave up one run in six innings. Severino, however, struggled and allowed five runs in five innings. Overall, the Sox won 14-1, highlighted by right fielder Mookie Betts’ grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game had a playoff atmosphere right from the beginning, as the Sox were looking to make a statement win over the AL East favorites. Boos and jeers were constant throughout the night, especially when Yankees stars Aaron Judge and Stanton came up to bat.
The next night the Yanks returned a favor as they scored four runs against pitcher David Price in the first inning and scored eight runs through four innings though the Sox fought back to make it a close game. A brawl also broke out after Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelley hit Yankee Tyler Austin. Austin then charged the mound and both team’s benches cleared out. This opening series has brought a spark back to the rivalry that will continue throughout the season.
Last season was the first year since 2009 that both the Yankees and the Red Sox make it to the playoffs. For the past eight seasons, Boston and New York have had their fair share of disappointing years, causing the rivalry to cool down.
Last season saw the Red Sox win 93 games and their second consecutive division title but lose in the American League Divisions Series, this time to the eventual champs, the Houston Astros. The Yankees, on the other hand, came into 2017 looking to continue to rebuild after only winning 84 games in 2016, and wound up winning 91 games due to a break-out season by rookie sensation Judge and were one win away from going to the World Series, also losing to Houston. The Yankees beat the Red Sox in the season series, 11-8.