Red Sox sweeps of Yankees rare

Red Sox sweeps of Yankees rare

BOSTON - In the grand scheme of the rivalry, the Red Sox taking their first five games from the Yankees this season has been unique. Boston last pulled off such a feat in 1985. The only other time it happened was in 1912.

The last time the Sox swept their first two series from the Yankees? You'd have to go back to 1971, but that is a bit misleading in that one of the sweeps was just one game, and the other series was a two-gamer.

Red Sox-Yankees

Yet here is a fascinating gem provided by the Yankees media relations staff. The last time the Red Sox swept the Yankees in the first two series in which there was a total of at least five games played? Try 1912, the year Fenway Park opened for business. That year, the eventual World Series-champion Red Sox won their first 14 games against the Yankees before New York finally answered on July 2.

There wasn't much of a rivalry in those days, as Boston finished at 105-47 while New York, in its final season of being called the Highlanders, was 50-102.

These 2009 Red Sox -- staying in tunnel vision mode -- seemed remarkably unimpressed by their accomplishment after finishing a two-game sweep at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Boston took three in a row from New York at Fenway April 24-26.

"It's not extra special," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We wanted to win [Tuesday]. We want to beat whoever we play."

After five stinging defeats against their rivals, the Yankees also tried to keep it even-keeled.

"The next time we play them, we can't be thinking about what happened in the first five games," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "We play them so many times. You've got to be able to move on."

Jeter and the Yankees have history on their side in this regard.

Victories an early indicator?
Here how the Red Sox and Yankees have fared in years in which one has opened with four or more wins against the other at the start of the season series.
Year
Team
Opening H2H Streak
Final H2H record
Final overall record
Final overall finish
2009BOSW5+NANANA
NYYL5+NANANA
2007BOSW48-1096-661st in AL East, won WS
NYYL410-894-68AL Wild Card, lost in ALDS
1994NYYW67-370-431st in AL East (no postseason)
BOSL63-754-614th in AL East
1990BOSW49-488-741st in AL East, lost in ALCS
NYYL44-967-957th in AL East
1985BOSW55-881-815th in AL East
NYYL58-597-642nd in AL East
1973BOSW49-989-732nd in AL East
NYYL49-980-844th in AL East
1964BOSW49-972-908th in AL
NYYL49-999-63Lost WS
1956NYYW414-897-57Won WS
BOSL48-1484-704th in AL
1945NYYW416-681-714th in AL
BOSL46-1671-837th in AL
1933NYYW914-891-592nd in AL
BOSL98-1463-867th in AL
1923NYYW414-898-54Won WS
BOSL48-1461-918th in AL
1920BOSW49-1372-815th in AL
NYYL413-995-593rd in AL
1912BOSW1419-2105-47Won WS
NYYL142-1950-1028th in AL

Back to that 1985 season, when the Sox last made such an early-season statement against New York. Consider the way the rest of the year played out.

The Toronto Blue Jays actually won the American League East that year. The Yankees, with 97 wins, finished just two games back. The Red Sox? They weren't a factor, finishing 81-81.

But sometimes one rival's early-season dominance against the other can serve as a sign of things to come.

The last time the Yankees began a season with five or more wins against the Red Sox was the strike-shortened 1994 season, when New York took the first six. That year, the Yankees finished 70-54 while the Red Sox were 54-61.

New York's longest winning streak against the Red Sox to start the season was nine games in 1933. The Yankees went 91-59 that year while Boston finished 63-86.

As for the current state of affairs, the Red Sox are just happy to be taking care of business and gaining any edge they can against the Yankees.

"A lot of those games could have gone either way," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "It's nice that we've been on the winning side of them. We've won a lot of tight games. It's definitely big when you look up at the end of the year."

"It's nice to have five in the bag but it has no bearing on the next 13," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay.

The Yankees will have to wait until June 9 -- when the rivals start a three-game series at Fenway Park -- before getting a chance to exact revenge.

"It's not any fun," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi of his team's struggles against the Red Sox. "It's frustrating."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.