The Red Sox and the Yankees were owners of the two best records in all of baseball. Heading into the massive four-game series at Fenway Park, you figured it would launch a dramatic fight to the finish.
Never in a million years did you think the Red Sox would end that chase. Well, they did exactly that.
The Red Sox swept the Yankees four straight games and outclassed New York in every way imaginable.
Pitching? Defense? Timely Hitting?
One team featured all of the above. The other did not.
The series sweep culminated in the Yankees worst loss of the 2018 season. Sunday night, they had a 4-1 lead heading into the ninth inning before the wheels fell off the wagon.
Aroldis Chapman couldn’t throw a strike. Miguel Andujar couldn’t throw the ball to first, and Greg Bird couldn’t bail his teammate out with a routine scoop on the errant throw.
The minute the Red Sox rallied on Sunday night to tie the ball game, there wasn’t a soul in the tristate area who expected the Yankees to find a way to avoid the sweep in extra innings.
It was that kind of weekend. In fact, it was the sort of weekend, that changes the course of a season.
As far as I’m concerned, the American League East race is over.
The Red Sox now have a nine-game lead heading into Tuesday’s action, and with the way they have played all year, it is beyond unreasonable to expect to make up that sort of ground.
Knowing the division is basically all but over is a bitter pill for a Yankees team that has played brilliantly for most of this year, but it’s the reality.
Right now, the Red Sox are the healthier, better baseball team.
However, it does not mean that all hope is lost for 2018.
Almost exactly one year ago, the Cleveland Indians came into the Bronx and outclassed the 2017 Yankees for three straight games and swept a series.
That Indians team went on to win a record setting 22 games in a row, and appeared almost unbeatable heading into the postseason.
In the playoffs, not many experts gave the Yankees a chance in a series against the Tribe, and we know what happened in that division series. The Yankees rallied from 2-0 down and stunned Cleveland.
There’s no guarantee that same narrative will play out in 2018 with the Red Sox, but there’s a lesson to be learned: you don’t win a World Series in early August. Things can change and they can change quickly.
The Yankees must now shift their focus off the Red Sox and lock in on growing their lead in the American League Wild Card.
The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners have closed the gap considerably with the Yankee struggles, but New York will enter a very soft portion of their schedule.
It’s time for the Yankees to get back to playing a better brand of baseball.
Pad your record against the bad teams, get Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez healthy, and hope it will be a much different dynamic the next time the Yankees and the Red Sox meet again. Potentially in the American League Division Series, if the Yankees can survive the wild card game.
Division over? Yes. Season over? Not so fast.
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