In a way, this was just like old times. It had it all: internal Yankees friction, a full house, an ace pitching matchup in the middle of a Red Sox series. It made nostalgia buffs expect that some Yankee was going to be sarcastically dubbed "Mr. May."
The outcome made it just like recent times, extending the Yankees' losing streak to four, their skid to 3-8 and their headaches to new heights.
The wrinkle of the night was the news that beloved Yankee Jorge Posada removed himself from the lineup after he was slated to bat ninth. That did add a touch of Bronx Zoo déjà vu. It sure wasn't boring.
"That's baseball, though," Sabathia said, referring to the rough stretch. "We have a good enough team to turn it around."
The series had quite a turnaround from the Friday night game, which had little of the usual Yankees-Red Sox sparkle. All of that changed Saturday night. There is nothing like a good old-fashioned Yankee controversy and a marquee pitching duel to spice things up.
You could get that sense about three hours before the first pitch. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not get to say much about Sabathia, the Red Sox or the game during his afternoon news conference. It was all about his decision to drop Posada to last in the batting order.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, meanwhile, acknowledged Sabathia's dominance by discussing his own lineup change: starting Mike Cameron rather than J.D. Drew in rightfield because Cameron had a career .471 batting average against Sabathia. (Cameron went 0-for-2 with a walk against him Saturday night.)
Then there was Beckett, who has made a strong recovery from his dreary 2010 (6-6, 5.78 ERA). This year, he is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. "He's working quicker, he looks confident," Francona said. "He is getting the ball and throwing it. I can see why, because he is throwing strikes and he feels good about himself. He was pretty committed this winter to bouncing back."
Through four scoreless innings, each pitcher had six strikeouts. Sabathia was the first to blink, allowing a two-run double to Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth. It could have been worse without an inning-ending, broken-bat double-play ball by Adrian Gonzalez, Boston's hottest hitter.
Sabathia wasn't nearly as fortunate with two outs in the seventh as Gonzalez extended his home run streak to four games with a three-run shot to rightfield, making the score 6-0. "He looked like Ichiro out there. He amazes me," Francona said of Gonzalez, who has nine homers.
The home run ended Sabathia's night, but not the Yankees' headaches. "A couple of walks here and there, and I didn't make the pitch I wanted to Gonzalez and it ended up being a blowout," Sabathia said.
Brett Gardner, 0-for-2 against Beckett, said, "We can do one of two things. We can hang our heads, or we can come out and salvage a game against these guys tomorrow."
Or they can just ignore a '70s flashback flareup. What Posada situation?
"I had no idea," Gardner said after the game. "I still don't, to be honest."