I’ll admit I’m a bit unhealthily obsessed with the way the Yankees play baseball at Fenway Park, although I’m pretty sure it’s par for the course for most Yankee fanatics. Maybe it’s because every time the Yankees play the Sox at Fenway on the Saturday afternoon game on Fox it seems you can not only pencil in a loss but expect a complete shellacking at the hands of the home nine. Or maybe because not even a 10-run lead in the bottom of the 9th at Fenway Park feels safe. Or maybe just because it’s Fenway Park and even the lowliest single A journeyman can toss on a Red Sox uniform and become Albert Pujols.
In any event, given that our beloved Bombers are kicking off the 2010 season this Sunday night in Boston’s beautiful yet frustrating-as-hell-for-the-opposition home, I wanted to see if the numbers actually bear out my perception that a game for the Yankees in Fenway Park — especially in April — is practically a guaranteed loss.
I took my research back through the 2003 season, as that was the year that seemed to really rejuvenate the rivalry as well as establish the Red Sox as one of the most formidable teams of the decade and a perennial World Series contender
We all know how the 2009 Yankees started out against the Red Sox. While the team incredibly managed to even its season record against Boston at 9-9 after an 0-8 start, 7 of its nine losses came at Fenway, and the Yankees didn’t win the first of only two 2009 Fenway victories until late August. The Yankees also unsurprisingly lost both of their Saturday afternoon games at Fenway by a combined score of 30-12. For their part, the Red Sox treated the Yankees like the Orioles in these nine games, scoring a total of 71(!) runs.
In 2008, the Yankees amazingly posted a winning record at Fenway Park, going 5-4, including two of the best-pitched games by any Yankee starter at Fenway since 2003: Chien-Ming Wang’s two-hit complete game on April 11, and Joba’s 7 shutout innings of nine-strikeout ball on July 25 — the start that those of us in the Joba-must-start camp cling to for dear life.
Frankly I don’t even remember those last two wins of the season in late September, as the team had been well out of the playoff hunt for a month and the Sox already had their playoff ticket punched. The Yankees also surprisingly outperformed Saturday afternoon expectations, going 2-1 in the Fox matinee.
Interesting side note: As you can see, no Yankee or Red Sox pitcher recorded more than one win per season at Fenway in the nine games between the two teams in 2008 as well as the nine games in 2009.
The Yankees went 4-5 at Fenway in 2007, and true to form were not only 0-3 in the Fox Saturday afternoon matinee but got throttled in doing so, losing by a combined score of 28-12. This series of games also featured Chase Wright’s (remember him?) second and final Major League start on April 22, 2007, in which Wright memorably served up four straight home runs to Boston in the bottom off the 3rd. Wright is apparently pitching mediocrely these days in Milwaukee’s system.
All hail 2006, for we will never see a performance like this again. The Yankees went 7-2 at Fenway that season (scoring eight runs per game in the process!), included the legendary five-game sweep/curbstomping the Yankees administered that August, all but sealing up the division. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Yankees could go into Fenway Park and take five straight games, and yet somehow they did just that. The Yanks went 1-0 in their only Saturday contest at the Fens that year, behind what appears to have been an ugly duel between Randy Johnson and Josh Beckett.
In 2005 the Yankees had the misfortune of playing 10 games at Fenway Park, and split those contests. Much to my chagrin, they won both Saturday afternoon affairs, although they also happened to have staff ace Johnson toeing the rubber in both outings. I actually vividly remember watching that July 16 game against Matt Clement, and whooping it up something fierce as Boston’s prize free agent from the previous offseason got his ass handed to him. And I remember being literally on the edge of my seat on Sunday night, July 17, as the just-acquired and near-retiring Al Leiter gave the Yankees 6 1/3 innings of fairly improbable one-run ball and brought the Yankees to within half a game of the first-place Red Sox.
I also recall vomiting profusely for several days at the news that the pitching-challenged 2005 Yankees would send Tim Redding to the hill for a start at Fenway Park, which, to the surprise of absolutely no one, ended in a 17-1 shellacking. This game is also noteworthy for being Melky Cabrera’s sixth career start and last game in the Majors of 2005, due in part to a misplayed fly ball that resulted in a Trot Nixon inside-the-park home run. Good times.
The Yankees went an ugly 3-7 at Fenway in 2004, and dropped all three Saturday afternoon contests, including one of the worst games of the decade: the July 24 seesaw game in which the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and Bill Mueller hit a walk-off homer off Mariano. The less said about this the better.
The 2003 Yankees went 5-4 at Fenway Park, with a 1-1 record on Saturday. Man, some of these games sure were high-scoring affairs, eh? The 2003 Yankees averaged 5.9 runs per game in Boston, second only to the 2006 team’s absurd 8 runs per game.
For kicks, here’s how the Yankees have fared at Fenway in the playoffs:
A .500 record, although those last two losses in 2004 sting worse than any others on these lists.
So there you have it. The Yankees are 31-34 in the regular season at Fenway Park since 2003, which is actually quite a bit better than I would have expected prior to embarking on this analysis. They’re 6-10 in the dreaded Fox Saturday afternoon matinee, which I could’ve sworn was going to be 0-16 but am happy to be wrong about.
On the Red Sox’s side of the ledger, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling each have 4 wins (to three losses apiece), and Tim Wakefield has 3 wins and 7 losses (though two playoff victories).
The Yankees’ winningest pitcher at Fenway since 2003 is Randy Johnson, with 4 wins in only two seasons (no losses), followed by Andy Pettitte with 3 wins (and only one loss) and Chien-Ming Wang (3-4).
Current Yankee ace CC Sabathia is 1-1 at Fenway as a Yankee, while A.J. Burnett is 0-2. Joba Chamberlain is 2-0 all-time at Fenway Park, with one of those victories as a starter in the aforementioned 1-0 July 2008 victory and the other coming in relief. Phil Hughes is 0-1 at Fenway and 0-2 in his career against Boston as a starter.
The Yankees have only played three extra-inning games at Fenway during the regular season since 2003, and have gone 1-2. They have also, of course, played two extra-inning games at Fenway Park in the postseason, during the 2004 ALCS. They lost both of those games.
And the Yankees’ April record at Fenway Park since 2003? A sterling 3-13. It sure would be great to see Sabathia and company finally put some of the Yankees’ early season Yawkey Way demons to bed come this Sunday evening.
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