The Associated Press
NEW YORK–Fans have been waiting for another one of these rumbles: baseball’s most-bitter rivals set to tangle again–this time as 100-win heavyweights in the playoffs.
Munson vs. Fisk, Pedro vs. Popeye , ‘A-Rod’ vs. Varitek, and earlier this year, Brock Holt vs. Tyler Austin.
The Boston Red Sox and N.Y. Yankees back at each other in the post-season for the first time in 14 years.
“We’re a team that can play with anybody and we’re not afraid to go in there,” Yankees’ centre-fielder Aaron Hicks said after a 7-2 wild-card win over Oakland last night sent New York to a best-of-five AL Division Series that starts tomorrow in Fenway Park.
Yankees’ fans were chanting “We want Boston!” during the late innings.
The Red Sox tweeted “We want New York” after the final out in the Bronx.
“I think they’re ready and relish the opportunity to go up against the game’s best this year,” Yankees’ rookie manager Aaron Boone said of his players.
That is the same Aaron Boone whose 11th-inning homer in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series beat the Red Sox.
A year later, Boston overcame the Yankees and became the first major-league team to bounce back from a 3-0 post-season deficit.
The Red Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1918 but Boone’s drive off Tim Wakefield has not been forgotten or forgiven.
Boston was 10-9 against the Yankees this season and set a club record with 108 wins under new manager Alex Cora, boosted by MVP candidate Mookie Betts, slugger J.D. Martinez, and ace Chris Sale.
New York finished eight games back and became the first team since the 2001 Athletics to reach triple digits in wins and fail to finish first.
New York also set the major-league mark for home runs, powered by the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
These teams also have a history of hitting each other.
Back on April 11, Austin charged the mound at Fenway after Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly threw at him twice, hitting Austin in the side with the second pitch.
Boston players were livid Austin slid spikes-first into shortstop Brock Holt earlier in the game.
A bench-clearing brawl led to suspensions and fines but Austin won’t be around for a rematch–he was dealt to Minnesota in July.
“It’s Yankees-Red Sox. That’s what everybody wants. That’s what they got,” Red Sox star pitcher David Price had said then.
Just another in a long history of bad blood between rivals a little more than 200 miles apart.
Fast forward to this week, with the teams ready to meet again.
“It’s going to be intense,” said Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia.
The other ALDS features Cleveland at Houston, which also starts tomorrow.