While the Red Sox and Yankees are generally considered to be the greatest rivalry in sports, the two have only met in the playoffs 4 times (if you count the 1978 playoff, which MLB does not). The meat of the feud really comes from the regular season battles that the two teams have waged since the early 1900s. So, with another late season match-up underway, here is the Top 10 Regular Season Series in the storied history of the Rivalry:
October 1-2, 1949: Yankee Stadium
Coming into the final series of the year, which just happened to be two games at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox held a 1 game lead over the 2nd place Yankees. All they needed to do was win 1 game and they would go on to face the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series. Instead they would lose both games, 6-4 and 7-4, to drop the division by a single game. The Yankees would go on to defeat Brooklyn in the World Series. It would be the closest Ted Williams would get to the World Series for the rest of his career.
September 7-9, 1978: Fenway Park
The Red Sox, who had held a 14.5 game lead over the Yankees, were only ahead by 4 games when the 4 game series at Fenway Park opened. The series, forever to be known as the Boston Massacre, may be the most painful ever experienced by Sox fans. The Yankees outscored the Sox 42-9 in the four game sweep. While the Yankees grinded out 67 hits, the Sox made 12 errors. Boston would win their last 8 games of the season to force a playoff, but you know what happened in that game.
September 15-18, 1988: Fenway Park
The Yankees cut the Red Sox 1st place lead to 3.5 games with a 5-3 win over Roger Clemens in Game 1, but the Sox would come back to win the last 3 games of the series and not only increase their lead to 6.5 games, but knock the Yankees from 2nd place to 4th. The Sox would go on to take 2 of 3 at Yankee Stadium a week later.
September 10-12, 1999: Yankee Stadium
The Red Sox cut the Yankees lead in the AL East to 3.5 games with a sweep of the eventual World Champs, including wins over Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens. Most impressive, however, is Pedro Martinez's 17 strike out-one hitter in Game 1 as the Sox won 3-1. Though the Sox would go on to lose in the ALCS 4 games to 1 against New York, it would be the first of many years to come in which the two clubs would battle it out for a trip to the World Series.
September 5-7, 2003: Yankee Stadium
The Sox would take Game 1 and 2 of the Series, 9-3 and 11-0, to drop the Yankees lead in the East to 1.5 games. The Yankees would take Game 3, however, 3-1, behind David Wells who out duels Jeff Suppan. It would be the closest the Sox would get to the division, as they finished 6 games out. They would go on to lose the ALCS in 7 games to New York.
June 29-July 1, 2004: Yankee Stadium
After taking the first two games of the series, the Yankees completed the sweep in what many call the greatest regular season game ever played between the two teams. The Red Sox, who desperately needed a win, would lose the 4 hour and 20 minute game, 5-4 in 13 innings. The low light of the game for Sox fans was Nomar Garciaparra sulking on the bench while the rest of the team stood on the top step, while the highlight for Yankee fans came when Derek Jeter went diving into the stands in the 12th with runners on 2nd and 3rd to record the 3rd out.
July 23-25, 2004: Fenway Park
After the Yankees took Game 1, 8-7, thanks to an A-Rod RBI single, all hell breaks lose in Game 2. A-Rod gets hit by a pitch then gets hit by Jason Varitek and a bench clearing brawl follows. Five ejections, an hour long sixth inning and a blown save by Mariano Rivera, thanks to a two run walk off home run by Bill Mueller, later and the Sox get the win. They would go on to win Game 3 as well and although the Yankees would leave Fenway with a 7.5 game lead, the stage was set for the greatest ALCS of all time.
April 11-14, 2005: Fenway Park
The Red Sox being presented championship rings on the first day the season may have been a dream come true, but that it was done in front of the Yankees made it even better. The Yanks showed some class by applauding the ceremony and the Sox fans had some laughs with Mariano Rivera, who received a standing ovation after blowing two saves in the 2004 ALCS and another in the 3rd game of the season at Yankee Stadium. The Sox won Game 1, 8-1, and Game 3, 8-5, while the Yankees took Game 2, 5-2.
September 30-October 2, 2005: Fenway Park
In one of the strangest series in the history of either team, both the Yankees and the Red Sox qualified for the playoffs by defeating each other. Going into the series the Yankees had a one game lead and only needed one win to take the AL East title because of the season series tie breaker. If the Sox swept, they would be champs. The Sox took Game 1, 5-3 behind former Yankee David Wells, but the Yankees would win the division in Game 2 with a 8-4 win. A day later the Sox would cruise to a 10-1 win and celebrate a Wild Card birth. Both teams would lose in the ALDS.
August 18-21, 2006: Fenway Park
During the WEEI-Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon earlier in the week George Steinbrenner called in to donate to the cause, and predict his Yankees would take 4 of the 5 upcoming games in Boston. The Boss was wrong, however, as the Yankees took all 5 games of the series. Though the banged up Red Sox put up a good fight in the opening double header, they were out scored 47-25 in the 5 games. The Yankees came into the series with a 1.5 game lead and left with a 6.5 game lead. Though there was over a month of baseball left, the shocking sweep ended the season for the Sox.