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Dan Shaughnessy

It's a no-win situation for New Yorkers

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / June 12, 2009
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Abject humiliation. The New York Yankees came to town in first place, winners of 19 of their last 25 games.

They left the Hub early this morning with bags over their heads, reeling from yet another loss (4-3), yet another sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

That's 0-8 against the Red Sox this year.

In addition to being rich and talented, the Yankees are smart. They keep reminding everyone about the big picture. They are two games out of first place and today is June 12. So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that the Sox and Yankees don't play each other again until Aug. 6. So New York can win every game for the next eight weeks; the Yankees can win 40 in a row or more. But no matter what they do, they're going to be constantly reminded that they are 0-8 against the Red Sox.

It's pretty terrific when you think about it.

The Sox have beaten New York in every way possible this year. Blowouts, comebacks, steals of home. Last night's victory was one of the sweetest. The Sox trailed, 3-1, in the eighth, but scored three times after "Sweet Caroline" (key at-bat: a 10-pitch walk drawn by Dustin Pedroia) to waste the fine work of CC Sabathia and break the Yankees' backs yet again.

"It hasn't been fun for us against the Red Sox," said manager Joe Girardi. "It [a sweep] is not what we imagine when we come in here."

"Today we were in a good position to win, but they came back," added Derek Jeter. "They deserved to sweep us. We didn't play too well. Of course, we're disappointed, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves. Their guys have played better than us."

The Yankee captain has seen a lot in his many years with the Bronx Bombers, but he has never seen anything like this. No one has - not unless they were alive and aware back in 1912, which is the last time the Sox won as many as eight in a row against New York to begin a season.

It's getting rotten back in the Apple. The back cover of yesterday's Daily News featured Jeter and a headline that screamed "Knuckle Heads." Page One of the Post opted for a dignified "This Sox!"

It's times like this when we miss the old, feisty George Steinbrenner. Close your eyes and try to imagine the boss spending all this dough, then watching the Sox humiliate his team eight straight times. Does this expression "spit the bit" come to mind?

The Yankees will be getting the Bronx cheers tonight at home against the Mets.

There's no such thing as a "must-win" in June, but the Yanks really needed this one last night.

It was time for Sabathia to step up and show New York he's worth $161 million. Time for the Round Mound of Mound to beat somebody other than the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles.

Sabathia hadn't fared well in his last couple of appearances against the Sox. They roughed him up twice in the 2007 ALCS (0-2, 10.45).

But the big fella was on his game last night, matched up against fellow sumo Brad Penny (if Dr. Charles Steinberg still worked for the Sox, the club no doubt would have staged a contest urging fans to guess the aggregate tonnage of the starting pitchers). Sabathia gave up little more than a David Ortiz home run in his first seven innings.

Things fell apart in the eighth. Leading, 3-1, Sabathia put the first three men on base, including Pedroia's amazing base on balls.

"He fouled off a lot of tough pitches," said Jeter. "That was pretty much the at-bat of the game."

"I was disappointed I couldn't finish it off," said Sabathia.

Instead, he turned the game over to raging bullpen member Alfredo Aceves.

Game.

Set.

Match.

Kevin Youkilis to Jason Bay to Mike Lowell. Too easy.

If there's one thing that's been established in these beatdowns, it is the undeniable fact that Theo and the minions have assembled a bullpen far superior to New York's. It makes for a nightmare matchup. Night after night. Sabathia was the only Yankee starter to finish three innings in this series, and when the call is made to the pen, Boston wins every time.

Terry Francona was diplomatic when asked about the significance of the Sox' spring run against the Yankees.

"I don't think I have a good answer for that," he started. "We don't need to be talking about April. If we were the ones losing, I'd probably defend it.

"I'm aware of it, it's silly to say I'm not. But you know, Tampa Bay has beat us a lot this year and next time we play them I don't think we're going to lose.

"Our records are close to the same, we've just gotten there different ways. I know the fans probably love it. They should."

Francona is starting to sound like a couple of former Yankee managers. Over the weekend, he talked about Ortiz going to visit the obstetrician (he meant optometrist). Last night he told us Jonathan Papelbon was in need of liquidation (he meant hydration).

Casey Stengel could have said that. Yogi Berra, too.

Neither one ever lost eight straight games to the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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