BOSTON (ESPN.com news services) -- The New York Yankees celebrated in the dugout as
if they'd just clinched a playoff berth.
In a way, they've done everything but.
Hugging and shaking hands after a demoralizing five-game sweep
of the rival Red Sox, New York took a season-high 6½-game lead in
the AL East with a 2-1 victory over Boston on Monday. The Yankees
have never squandered a lead that large, and they hadn't swept
Boston in five games in more than half a century.
"A sweep in Boston?" winning pitcher Cory Lidle said, pausing
before breaking out in a big smile. "Pretty awesome."
None other than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was tickled to see his team win all five.
"Can you imagine that, five games?" Steinbrenner told USA Today over the phone from his office at Legends Field in Tampa, Fla. "Five games. It's hard to believe."
When asked where the sweep ranks with the six World Series titles won under Steinbrenner's watch, he told USA Today, "This ranks right at the top because it was for the fans. So many guys delivered."
After outscoring the Red Sox 47-25 in four games over three days
and two early mornings, the Yankees rediscovered their pitching to
win the sleepy series finale at Fenway Park.
"Everything went about as wrong as it could," Red Sox manager
Terry Francona said. "It's not been a very good five days."
Lidle (2-2) pitched six shutout innings in his third -- and best
-- start since coming to New York at the trading deadline along with
more-heralded slugger Bobby Abreu. With All-Star closer Mariano
Rivera unavailable after pitching two innings to win Sunday night's
game -- actually, it ended at 1:26 a.m. Monday -- Kyle Farnsworth
pitched the ninth for his second save in six tries.
Yankees manager Joe Torre shouted in the Yankees' dugout and
exchanged hearty handshakes with his coaches, then hugged his
players as they came off the field.
Even they found it hard to believe.
"It was emotional," Torre said. "When you're sitting there, a
manager's dream is to have these guys, their attitude. The guys
that didn't play today -- you had to be in the dugout to hear the
support that they gave each other."
There were a lot of regulars not playing for the Yankees, who
rested center fielder Johnny Damon, catcher Jorge Posada and first
baseman Jason Giambi and used Derek Jeter at designated hitter.
David Wells (2-3) coasted through the makeshift lineup for five
innings before Abreu doubled in Melky Cabrera to break the
It was 28 years ago that the Yankees came to Fenway in September
with a four-game deficit and left tied for the division lead -- a
series remembered in baseball as the "Boston Massacre." New York,
which had trailed by as many as 14 games, won the AL East in a
one-game playoff settled when Bucky Dent's popup settled into the
net above the Green Monster.
The Red Sox hadn't been swept in a five-game series since the
Cleveland Indians did it in 1954. The Yankees swept Boston in five
games in New York in 1951 and at Fenway in '43.
"It's been an emotional weekend," Red Sox second baseman Mark
Loretta said. "It's been physically challenging and emotionally
challenging for both sides. It's a little easier to take if you're
Both teams left for the West Coast, with the Red Sox knowing
that their best chance to make the playoffs is the wild card. They
began the day four games behind the Chicago White Sox and three in
back of the Minnesota Twins.
"We came into this series thinking we could make up ground
(because) we were playing the team right in front of us," Francona
said. "We certainly didn't put ourselves in a very good position.
If we allow it to devastate us, then we weren't good enough in the
Wells gave up two runs on six hits and a walk, striking out four
before Green doubled and moved to third on Cabrera's sacrifice
bunt. Green scored to make it 2-0 when Keith Foulke's third pitch
Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez left the game in the fifth
inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. He had been the most
productive player in the Red Sox lineup during the series, going
8-for-11 with two homers, seven RBI and nine walks.
The 1933 Yankees led by six but finished seven behind
Washington. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last
five-game sweep in the majors was Boston over Toronto at Fenway
Park in 2002. ... Red Sox SS Alex Gonzalez, who missed the previous
two games with back spasms, was originally in the starting lineup
but was scratched. ... Jeter's fourth-inning single was the 1,531st
of his career, tying him with Bernie Williams and Lou Gehrig atop
the Yankees' all-time list. Williams reached the milestone on
Friday. ... Boston 1B Kevin Youkilis was not in the starting lineup
a day after jamming his ankle and getting spiked in the hand. ...
Kyle Snyder will start for Boston on Tuesday. ... Red Sox leadoff
man Coco Crisp was 1-for-19 in the series. ... Torre said the groin
tightness that caused starter Mike Mussina to leave Sunday night's
game early was probably "just a cramp."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.