After being swept by the Boston Red Sox at home, the Yankees concluded one of their most embarrassing and demoralizing weeks in recent memory. In addition to losing three games to their heated rival, not to mention enduring the Jorge Posada soap opera, the Yankees also dropped two games to the Kansas City Royals. As a result, the team hopped on a plane to Tampa with a five game losing streak, matching their longest skid at the new Yankee Stadium. Hopefully, there was enough room on the flight for all the baggage.
When the Yankees and Red Sox meet, things tend to get blown out of proportion. However, being swept by Boston at home is a pretty significant event, at least from a historical perspective. Since the two ball clubs were founded in 1901, the Yankees have only been swept by the Red Sox in 13 home series of three games or more. Five of those series occurred before the opening of Yankee Stadium (including one when the team resided in Baltimore), meaning Boston has only come into the Bronx and swept on eight occasions (and two of those series took place at the end of the season).
Road Warriors: Red Sox’ Sweeps in Yanks’ Home Ballpark, 1901-1911
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Although dropping three straight to Boston has a bitter feel, this weekend’s sweep doesn’t qualify as the Yankees’ most lopsided home series loss in the rivalry’s history. On two occasions, they dropped a five-game home series to the Red Sox. The first whitewash, which occurred in 1912, came amid a more encompassing 12-game losing streak to Boston that included three straight home series sweeps. During those five games in June 1912, the Yankees were outscored by a whopping 54-18, making that series the first “Boston Massacre” in the rivalry.
In 1912, the Red Sox finished with 104 wins and the Yankees followed 54 games behind, so there was nothing surprising about Boston’s domination. When the Red Sox came to town on July 5, 1939, however, the roles were reversed. By that point in the season, the Bronx Bombers had already amassed an 11.5 game lead over their rival and were threatening to run away from the rest of the American League. In five closely contested games, however, the Red Sox revived their pennant hopes by winning them all, including two doubleheader sweeps on consecutive days.
It looks like somebody ought to ask the American League to break up the Boston Red Sox. Their feat of whipping the New York Yankees five straight in Yankee Stadium came close to distracting everybody’s attention from tomorrow’s all-star game in New York and the reverberations are likely to last a lot longer.” – Judson Bailey, AP, July 10, 1939
As things turned out, the shockwaves of the dramatic sweep didn’t last very long. After the All Star Game, which the AL won 3-1, the Yankees rebounded to win eight of their next nine games. Before long, the division lead was back into the double digits and the three-time defending champions were on their way to yet another American League pennant. Despite ending the season with a respectable 89 wins, the Red Sox finished 17 games off the pace.
How will the Yankees rebound from this latest sweep? If the team has finally hit rock bottom, the only way forward would be up. Unfortunately, David Price is waiting in Tampa, and I am sure he’s eager to prolong the misery at least a little bit longer.