The Yankees closed out the improbable weekend with a 2-1 win over the Red Sox, marking the first five-game sweep for New York over Boston since Sept. 28-30, 1951, at Yankee Stadium. The previous two five-game sweeps in Boston came in June 1927 and September 1943.
"Win or lose today, I was going to be proud of them," manager Joe Torre said. "They came in here on a mission; you want to win every game, but you don't anticipate that you're going to be able to do that."
"It's unbelievable. If anybody would have said that either team would win five games in this series, I would have laughed," said Scott Proctor, who pitched an inning-plus in four of the five games, allowing just one run in six innings. "To be on the side that won five, it's a huge boost."
The sweep put some serious distance between the two rivals, as the Yankees boosted their lead over the Red Sox in the American League East from 1 1/2 games to 6 1/2 games since Friday.
"Going from 1 1/2 up to 6 1/2, you get a bit more breathing room," Johnny Damon said. "We have to continue to go out there and do it. We're feeling pretty good about ourselves."
"It's not been a very good five days," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "That's probably the understatement of the year."
Both teams now head to the West Coast, as the Yankees travel to Seattle and Anaheim, while the Red Sox visit Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland.
"I would like to think that our 5 1/2-hour flight will be a lot shorter than their 5 1/2-hour flight," said Mike Myers, who recorded a key out in the seventh against David Ortiz.
David Wells gave the Red Sox their best pitching performance of the series, holding the Yankees to two runs over 7 1/3 innings. Unfortunately for Boston, Cory Lidle held the Sox scoreless over six innings.
Octavio Dotel, Myers, Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth (second save) combined to go the final three frames, with Wily Mo Pena's solo homer off Proctor accounting for Boston's only run.
Since 1904, the Red Sox and Yankees have played 38 series of five games or more, with the Yankees now leading 20-16-2 (there were tie games in the old days). The Yanks last swept the Sox in a five-game set in September 1951 at Yankee Stadium. The previous two five-game sweeps at Fenway Park came in June 1927 and September 1943. Boston last brushed aside New York in a five-game set in July 1959. With their 2-1 victory on Monday, the Yankees now hold a 6 1/2-game lead in the American League East. A look inside the numbers from the just-completed set:
|Time of games: 19 hours, 55 minutes (plus 57-minute rain delay)
"It's fun to be on a team when everybody contributes," Myers said. "Everybody can walk away from this weekend and say, 'I contributed to a sweep.' That's pretty impressive."
Bobby Abreu snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI double off Wells. Abreu was 10-for-20 (.500) with four doubles, five runs, three RBIs, two steals and seven walks during the series.
"He loves the responsibility," Torre said. "He's slipped into this lineup and this clubhouse as easy as anybody."
"That's sweet; this is my first series against Boston and the sweep is great," Abreu said. "These games have been outstanding for me. I'm just having a good time with the team and enjoying it over here."
Lidle flirted with trouble in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with a pair of two-out walks. Javy Lopez missed his chance to give Boston the lead, grounding out to end the frame.
Lidle posted another zero in the bottom of the sixth, overcoming a dropped popup by Nick Green to hold the one-run lead and turn the game over to the bullpen. Lidle (2-2) allowed three hits and walked five, striking out five on the day.
"It's a great feeling to help this team," Lidle said. "I had pretty good command. I ran into some trouble when I walked three guys and I think I started nibbling a little too much and started to walk some guys. I tried to be too fine, but I settled down after that and it felt good."
"When we dropped the popup, he picked everybody up the way he pitched the rest of the inning," Torre said. "We got in a couple of jams, but when he needed to get the outs, he did. They were one swing away from putting a couple of points on the board and we were able to stop that."
Dotel started the seventh, but he was lifted after giving up a one-out single to Mark Loretta. Myers came in and struck out Ortiz, then Proctor retired Gabe Kapler to finish the inning.
New York tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, as Green doubled off Wells, moved to third on a sac bunt by Cabrera, then scored on a Keith Foulke wild pitch. Pena homered off Proctor in the eighth, but Farnsworth slammed the door with a perfect ninth.
"That's what championship teams are made of," Damon said when asked about the contributions of players such as Green and Cabrera. "We counted on everybody."
With 39 games remaining, the Yankees are at their high-water mark of 27 games over .500. Torre has said repeatedly that once a team gets to 30-over, it can realistically begin thinking about the postseason.
"Boston is never out of it," Alex Rodriguez said. "We have a lot of respect for them, and we know they're going to fight hard. Somehow, they always stay in it."
"A manager's dream is to have these guys be attentive, go out there, prepare and play their hearts out in spite of being tired and weary," Torre said. "To me, this is a winning ballclub. Does that mean we're going to win the division? No, that doesn't guarantee that. But I like the attitude we have, the determination and unselfishness in the areas that we need it."