43 years after Bucky Dent hit his famous home run at Fenway Park and put the entire stadium in almost absolute silence, so many years after that October 2, 1978, we will have another life and death game like that between Red Sox and Yankees , another night like that at old Fenway.
This time it’s a Wild Card Game. In 1978, after one of the most memorable divisional fights in baseball history – with the Yankees coming back after falling behind 14.5 games in July to sentence the Red Sox – the winner of that playoff game went straight to the Championship Series. of the American League. This time, the winner will buy their ticket to travel to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and face the Rays Thursday night in Game 1 of their Division Series.
That doesn’t change the fact that throughout history we’ve had a few games like this between the Red Sox and the Yankees.
Of course, the trip to the World Series will not be in the balance Tuesday night, as it was in 2003 and 2004, when the two teams battled through Game 7 of the SCLA. And just three years ago they played a dramatic Game 4 in the ALDS in which Boston eliminated its eternal rival.
That game was at the new Yankee Stadium. Those Games 7 of 2003 and 2004 were in the old stadium in the Bronx. The drama will now be at Fenway and both teams will be able to relive a moment from the past for all of us.
Much has changed. Baseball has changed. The postseason format is different. But there will be some of that feeling from October 2, 1978 Tuesday night at Fenway, you can be sure of that.
Before his Yankees faced the Red Sox that day in 1978 – a day when his home run ended up making the difference in the Yankees’ 5-4 win – Reggie Jackson stood in the batting cage and said, “What the season is decided in a game like this, between them and us, it’s perfect ”.
Then he smiled and said, ‘Hey, what other teams did you want to play today?’
Jackson hit a late game homer, Dent hit his off Mike Torrez earlier and Carl Yastrzemski delivered the last out with a fly off off Rich Gossage. Lou Piniella made a great catch in right field to catch a hit by Fred Lynn and then, in the ninth inning and despite losing the ball in the sun, miraculously caught a hit by Jerry Remy. And Rick Burleson didn’t advance to third base, from where he would have scored the tying run on Jim Rice’s fly that Piniella also took.
When that day ended, and Fenway was even quieter than when Dent’s home run came out, I found Piniella sitting in front of her locker. I told him that in the Boston clubhouse there were many people wondering what would have happened if certain things had not happened, referring mainly to Piniella’s magical afternoon in the outfield.
He raised his face and replied: “Look, we are not the world champions for nothing.”
Those Yankees ended up winning their second World Series in a row. The Red Sox went home, at that point still looking for their first World Series since 1918. Now, things have changed in La Rivalidad. The Red Sox have won the World Series four times in the past 18 seasons, by just one for the Yankees. The Patirrojos defeated the Bombers in Game 7 after coming back from being down 0-3 in that 2004 SCLA. They ended another New York campaign three years ago, when Craig Kimbrel somehow managed to survive in the ninth inning of Game 4.
Now the Red Sox will have a chance to end another Yankees year Tuesday night at Fenway, just nine days after the Bronx swept them in Boston, a hit that at times seemed like it would knock them out of the Wild Card. especially after they went to Baltimore and lost two of three.
But then the Yankees lost two of three to the Rays in the Bronx, and they came very close to ending up in a playoff game against the Blue Jays. Until Aaron Judge rolled that gold to second base at the close of the ninth inning on Sunday. This is how they got to this game on Tuesday. The Red Sox? They rallied after being down 5-1 on Sunday against the Nationals, with Dominican Rafael Devers (from 5-4) loading them as did compatriot David Ortiz at this time of year, finally hitting a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to put Boston up.
“No moment is too big for him (Devers),” his manager, Puerto Rican Alex Cora, said after the victory Sunday.
Now we have another battle between Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway. Boston dominated New York at the start of the year. The Yankees followed suit in the final months. Nathan Eovaldi, who won that key Game 3 of the 2018 Division Series at Yankee Stadium, will take the ball for the home team. Gerrit Cole will do it for the Yankees, with the responsibility of winning the kind of game for which the Yankees paid him $ 324 million as a free agent.
Some will go to St. Pete. The other will go home. The Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway again, with the season on the line. Reggie was right in 1978 and he is still right now. It’s perfect that the story, for these two teams, ends like this. Sometimes it seems that this is a great rivalry in name only. But that won’t be the case Tuesday night.