The New York Yankees will take on the Boston Red Sox in the 2018 ALDS, having crushed the Oakland A’s by a score of 7-2 in the AL wild-card game on Wednesday night.
Since the team that’d become the Yankees moved to New York, known then as the Highlanders, the two franchises have played 2,194 regular season games against one another — starting with a 6-2 Red Sox victory on May 7, 1903 — producing one of the fiercest and most iconic rivalries in all of sports.
But because teams from the same division couldn’t reach the MLB postseason in the same year until 1994, their matchup in the 2018 ALDS will be just the fourth playoff series between the Yankees and Red Sox ever.
Here’s what happened in the previous three.
1999 ALCS: Yankees Win, 4-1
Down 2-0 in their ALDS matchup with the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox, that year’s wild-card winners, stormed back to win three consecutive do-or-die contests to gain entry to the championship series. New York, meanwhile, got there comfortably, sweeping the Texas Rangers 3-0 in their division series, having claimed the AL East by four games in the regular season.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez tossed a gem in Game 1, holding Boston to two runs over eight innings before giving way in the ninth to Mariano Rivera, who returned to pitch in the 10th with the game knotted up at 3-3. Following two shutout innings from the Hall of Fame closer, Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, leading off in the bottom of the frame, hit a walk-off home run for a 1-0 series lead.
After splitting the next two contests, controversy struck in the form of “The Phantom Tag.” Trailing by one with one out in the bottom of the eighth of Game 4, Red Sox second baseman Jose Offerman singled to right. When ensuing hitter John Valentin grounded to second base, Chuck Knoblauch tried and failed to tag Offerman. Umpire Tim Tschida still called Offerman out, leading to an inning-ending double play.
Perhaps deflated, Boston surrendered six runs in the top of the ninth, then manager Jimy Williams was ejected for arguing a play at first in the bottom of the frame, prompting fans to throw trash onto the Fenway Park field.
El Duque dominated once again in Game 5, claiming series MVP honors and sending the Yankees to the World Series, where they’d sweep the Atlanta Braves.
2003 ALCS: Yankees Win, 4-3
No team held more than a one-game lead at any point in the series, which came down to the 11th inning of Game 7.
Coming off the second consecutive season in which he led the majors in ERA, Pedro Martinez took the ball against Roger Clemens in the deciding contest. Martinez pitched well through seven innings, surrendering two runs, while Clemens got knocked around, leaving after three frames having surrendered three runs.
Though, according to Bill Simmons’ “Now I Can Die in Peace,” general manager Theo Epstein had advised manager Grady Little to remove Martinez after seven innings or 100 pitches, Little surprised his pitcher by sending him out for the eighth with a 5-2 lead. After inducing a pop fly to lead off the frame, Martinez surrendered four consecutive hits — three of them doubles — sandwiched around a manager visit to the mound.
New York tied things in the eighth, then Aaron Boone, now the team’s manager, hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th to send the Yankees to the World Series.
“Pedro is our man,” Little said after the loss, according to The Washington Post. “He’s the one we want out there. If they squeeze a couple of balls over the infield, there’s nothing we can do about that.
“When I went to the mound to talk to him, he wanted to stay in there and get the job done. He’s the man we all wanted in there.”
Little was fired during the offseason.
2004 ALCS: Red Sox Win, 4-3
In arguably the most famous championship series of all time, the Red Sox, led by new manager Terry Francona, stormed back to become the first (and so far only) team to win a seven-game series after trailing 3-0. And they did so in dramatic fashion, requiring walk-off David Ortiz hits in extra innings to win Games 4 and 5 at home.
Trailing by one in Game 4, Boston’s Kevin Millar drew a walk from Rivera to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Pinch runner Dave Roberts then advanced to second on the most beloved steal in Red Sox history.
Two pitches later, Bill Mueller singled up the middle, and the Red Sox forced extras against the division winners.
In the bottom of the 12th, Ortiz homered off Paul Quantrill for Boston’s first win of the series. They won the next three against New York, then swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first title since 1918, the year before they infamously sent Babe Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000.