BOSTON – Be afraid, Yankees fans. Be very afraid.
It’s not just that the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 3-2, in 10 inning on Sunday night. It’s not just that Boston has a one-game lead in the AL East. It’s not just that the Red Sox have beaten the Yankees 10 times in 12 meetings this season, clinching the division tiebreaker should the teams end up tied at season’s end.
No, what should keep Yankees fans up at night is that the Red Sox are not afraid of CC Sabathia or Mariano Rivera. If the teams meet in the American League Championship Series, how are the Yankees going to win if their ace and their closer are mere mortals?
It was Rivera who gave up the tying run in the ninth inning on Sunday night. It’s hardly a surprise anymore when he blows a save against the Red Sox – the greatest closer of all time has done it 14 times. The intimidation factor hasn’t been there since the debacle that was the 2004 ALCS.
And what of Sabathia? The Yankees’ ace is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Red Sox this season after he took a pounding on Saturday. He’s 16-2, 2.11 against the rest of the league. The Red Sox aren’t the rest of the league. They are the Yankees’ biggest rivals. Losing two of three to them this weekend is a small body blow for the Yankees – easy to shake off during Monday’s off-day, harder to dismiss if the teams meet again in October.
There’s a long way to go before the playoffs, of course. Texas, last year’s AL World Series team, appears to be just as formidable as in 2010. Detroit has Justin Verlander, and who would want to face him twice in a five-game first-round series?
So there’s no guarantee the Yankees and Red Sox will even meet in the second round. It hasn’t happened since 2004. But if it happens this season, the Red Sox will know they can beat Sabathia and Rivera. Because they keep on doing it.