Instead, they staged yet another classic Thursday night at Fenway Park that had every imaginable kind of drama. All the Red Sox cared about in the end was the fact they emerged with an 8-5 victory in the rubber match of the three-game set, and on a night Randy Johnson was pitching against them no less.
How do you explain the never-ending line of plot twists?
"It's just the rivalry, that's all I can say," said Sox left-hander Alan Embree. "I'm tired of beating up each other. It's time to go play the rest of the league."
This contest was locked in a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the eighth when Edgar Renteria smashed a double off the wall in left-center against Tom Gordon. Johnny Damon, who broke even before Renteria made contact, sprinted all the way around from third.
The Sox added a couple of more on a two-run triple by Jason Varitek that only added another layer to an already eventful evening. As Gary Sheffield went to field the ball in the right field corner, a fan sitting in the front row took an apparent swipe at Sheffield's head. Sheffield swung back at the fan, but apparently missed.
However, as Yankees players and the umpiring crew convened around Sheffield, security intervened and the situation did not escalate any further.
Then there was the top of the ninth still to be played. And all the Yankees did against Sox closer Keith Foulke was load the bases, putting the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the person of Ruben Sierra. Foulke induced the ageless switch-hitter into a foul popout to Varitek, allowing the packed Fenway crowd of 35,251 to exhale.
"It's just one of those good victories. It took a while, but it's a win," said Foulke, who threw a whopping 53 pitches over two innings to earn the win. "It's just one of those things. I'm just struggling right now. I can't find a groove and get comfortable. I eventually ended up getting it done."
This was one of those nights where the Sox just found a way.
The six head-to-head meetings in the first nine games of the season perfectly explains why the Sox and Yankees are both 4-5. The teams have neutralized each other, splitting the six encounters.
"Let them go and beat up on some teams and we're going to go beat up on some teams," said Damon. "Once we suit it back up against each other, the weather will be warmer and it will definitely be a little more intense. I think we're ready to face another team."
A night after the Yankees were able to emerge victorious against Sox ace Curt Schilling, Boston turned the tables on the Big Unit.
|Jay Payton / CF|
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
They bashed three homers off the five-time Cy Young Award winner.
The Sox got the jolt they were looking for against Johnson in the bottom of the second, as Jay Payton belted a two-run homer to center to snap the scoreless tie. The Yankees got one back in the top of the third when Hideki Matsui doubled home Derek Jeter.
In the third, Renteria, in his breakout game since joining the Sox, blasted his first homer with his new team, a two-run shot off Johnson that gave the Sox a 4-1 lead.
"Edgar had a big impact on the game," said Sox manager Terry Francona, who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning. "We've known all along that Edgar is a great player."
The Sox entered the night trying to get into a groove at the plate, and it was accomplished as they smashed three homers off Johnson, who took a no-decision. The Big Unit gave up five hits and five runs over seven innings, striking out nine.
"He is one of the best," Francona said. "We certainly didn't knock him around, but we worked him."
Sox starter Bronson Arroyo couldn't hold the three-run lead. He walked three batters in the fourth, the latter of which was a bases-loaded free pass to Sheffield on what looked like a questionable call by home plate umpire Greg Gibson.
Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson was ejected for arguing the call. Gibson told Francona that he read Jackson's lips. Francona, who was standing next to Jackson, said that the hitting coach didn't say anything that warranted an ejection.
Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of the opportunity, getting a two-run single from Matsui and an RBI single from A-Rod to take the lead at 5-4.
|Jason Varitek / C|
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R
The drama continued to build in the bottom of the fourth. Varitek tattooed a solo shot well over the Monster and on to Lansdowne Street (his 100th career homer) to tie it up.
"You get the good part of the bat on the ball, as hard as Randy throws, it will go a long way," said Varitek. "I just got the good part of the bat on the ball. He throws awfully hard."
Again, the Sox took issue with Gibson, as Francona was ejected for arguing a called strike on Bill Mueller.
"I had it," said Francona. "I didn't want to watch him umpire anymore."
While Francona exited, the roller-coaster continued. There are another 13 regular season games left between the rivals.
"It's the way it's probably going to be," Francona said of the wild night. "We have two great teams and two great baseball cities and a lot of emotion."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.