The brawl, Fortnite and now the ALDS: The story of Yanks-Sox 2018

ByMatt Marrone via ESPN logo
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two teams, 208 regular-season wins.

It was a banner year for the rivalry. Now, it's a best of five.

This season, the Boston Red Sox (108 wins) and New York Yankees (100) became just the fourth pair of teams to win 100 or more games while playing in the same division since MLB's divisional era began in 1969.

Along the way, they played each other 19 times (the Red Sox won a close season series 10-9), with enough wild moments between them to set up what should be a memorable American League Division Series.

Here are a few of the 2018 highlights:


April 10: Red Sox 14, Yankees 1

The story: In the season opener between the two teams at Fenway Park, the Red Sox set the stage for their offensive renaissance this season. Mookie Betts hit a grand slam during a nine-run sixth inning, Chris Sale notched his first win of the year, and the Sox improved to 9-1 for the first time in franchise history.

What it means for the ALDS: Betts went on to win the AL batting title and is considered by many to be the favorite for AL MVP. Meanwhile, Sale is Boston's Game 1 starter. He has never faced the Yankees in the postseason, but he's 6-4 lifetime against them, with 130 strikeouts and a 1.61 ERA in 100 innings.

The brawl

April 11: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7

The story: When Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly hit Bombers DH Tyler Austin with a pitch in the seventh inning -- retaliation for Austin's spikes-first slide into shortstop Brock Holt in the third -- the benches cleared in Beantown. The most lasting image? Yankees slugger Aaron Judgetowering above the pack, with Kelly in a headlock.

What it means for the ALDS: All these months later, any bad blood from the brawl seems to have disappeared. And guess what else has disappeared? Austin, who was traded to the Twins at the deadline for righty Lance Lynn, who could play a prominent role in long relief for the Yankees this October.


May 9: Yankees 9, Red Sox 6

The story: The Yankees rallied off closer Craig Kimbrel for their 17th win in 18 games during a pivotal early-season stretch against the Angels, Indians, Astros and Red Sox. But Red Sox lefty David Price was the story before the game; Price had felt numbness in his pitching hand during his abbreviated start against the Yankees on brawl day, and when the numbness resurfaced before this series in the Bronx, he was scratched from his scheduled May 8 start and diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. The cause? Price admitted to being a dedicated fan of Fortnite, which raised the question of how much the video game was a factor.

What it means for the ALDS: The Bombers have long put up video game numbers against Price.Price has thrown an even 250 innings against the Yankees in his career -- to the tune of a 4.90 ERA and a 1.404 WHIP. This year, he was 0-3 with a 10.34 ERA and a 1.915 WHIP in four starts.

Steve Bleepin' Pearce

Aug. 2: Red Sox 15, Yankees 7

The story: When journeyman Steve Pearce was traded to Boston from Toronto in June, he completed an AL East cycle -- Pearce has played for every team in the division. He has faced -- and succeeded against -- no team more often than the Yankees, with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in 64 games. In this Boston blowout, Pearce rocked three round-trippers and drove in six.

What it means for the ALDS: Watch out for Steve Pearce.

Porcello's one-hitter

Aug. 3: Red Sox 4, Yankees 1

The story: In the fastest nine-inning Yankees-Red Sox game since May 6, 1994 -- just 2 hours, 15 minutes -- Pearce homered again, Boston skipper Alex Cora was ejected in the bottom of the first inning (after a high, inside fastball from Luis Severino to Betts), and Miguel Andujar's fourth-inning homer was the lone New York hit off Rick Porcello.

What it means for the ALDS: Well, don't expect quick games. Also, don't be surprised if the Yankees fail to pound Porcello in the playoffs. He has a 3.11 ERA against them in 22 lifetime starts, including a 2.31 ERA in four starts this season. The Bombers have seen him in the ALDS before, back in 2011 when he was a Tiger -- and they clobbered him in Game 4 en route to a 10-1 win. But the only current Yankee in that day's lineup was Brett Gardner. And he's a bench player these days.

AL East race, over

Aug. 5: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (10)

The story: After a three-run rally off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tied the game in the ninth, Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi supplied a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to not only win the game but also seal a four-game Sox sweep. The victory put Boston up by 9 games in the AL East, effectively ending the division race.

What it means for the ALDS: We've seen it on both sides, over many years: No matter who's on the mound, or how big a lead is, anything can happen in Red Sox-Yankees games. And though Boston grabbed the AL East early, they finished with only a one-game advantage in the season series.

BoSox bubbly in the Bronx

Sept. 20: Red Sox 11, Yankees 6

The story: After the Yankees staved off a champagne celebration with wins over Boston in back-to-back games, the Red Sox officially clinched the AL East at Yankee Stadium, led by Betts' four hits and five RBIs.

What it means for the ALDS:Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4 will be at Yankee Stadium. Déj vu?

Yanks grab home wild card

Sept. 28: Yankees 11, Red Sox 6

The story: In a small measure of revenge, the Yankees hit four Fenway Park home runs to clinch home-field advantage in the wild-card game against the A's.

What it means for the ALDS: First off, that home-field advantage helped get the Yankees this far. They won't have it in the ALDS, though, and the Red Sox -- at 57-24 -- hold baseball's best home record.

No. 265 -- and No. 100

Sept. 29: Yankees 8, Red Sox 5

The story: Gleyber Torres' fourth-inning home run was the Yankees' 265th of the season, breaking the MLB record set by the Mariners in 1997. Giancarlo Stanton later homered (and Luke Voit homered off the Red Sox the next day in the season finale), and the Yankees finished with 267 long balls and an even 100 wins. In an only-at-Fenway moment, Stanton was struck by his own home run ball, which wastossed back from the stands.

What it means for the ALDS: Whiplash for fans? No team in the majors scored more than the Red Sox and Yankees this season, and it wasn't even close. Sure, the Bombers hit 59 (!) more home runs than the Sox did, but Boston plated 25 more runs.

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