Yankees vs. Red Sox showdown at Fenway could be a classic

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox meet Tuesday at Fenway Park in the American League wild-card game, the latest postseason showdown between the heated rivals.

The Red Sox are hosting by virtue of winning the season series 10-9, but the Yankees took the last six meetings between the teams, including a crucial sweep at Fenway in late September.

A one-game playoff in Boston of course brings to mind Bucky Dent’s heroics in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker. His three-run homer put the Yankees ahead late in the game and made him forever a pariah in Boston.

The two teams have met twice more in winner-take-all postseason games, with the Yankees winning Game 7 of the ALCS in 2003 (Aaron Boone) and the Red Sox returning the favor in 2004 en route to their first title in 86 years.

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez tags Brett Gardner at the plate trying to score on Sept. 25.

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez tags Brett Gardner at the plate trying to score on Sept. 25.

Here’s how USA TODAY Sports’ baseball team sees the game playing out in Boston:

Bob Nightengale: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5You don’t pay $324 million to a pitcher and not expect him to deliver in the postseason. If Yankees ace Gerrit Cole doesn’t come through, it will be an awfully long winter for him. He is just 1-3 despite a 3.09 ERA in his four previous winner-take-all starts. It’s a successful season for the Red Sox, even if they lose, considering no one expected them to be anything more than a .500 club after last year’s disaster. It’s a nightmare of a season for the Yankees if they fall short of the World Series, let alone can’t get past the wild-card game. The Yankees were built for pressure games like this.

Gabe Lacques: Yankees 7, Red Sox 6 – Fenway Park is too conducive to the Bombers’ power, and the little things Boston did poorly down the stretch can’t be fixed in one game against a well-matched opponent.

Steve Gardner: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3: With rosters set specifically for this game, look for a lot of pitching changes and plenty of high-leverage at-bats. The home field advantage at Fenway is the difference as the Sox walk it off vs. Aroldis Chapman.

Jesse Yomtov: Yankees 9, Red Sox 7: If you’ve always thought Yankees-Sox games are insufferably long and slow, just wait until all the pitching changes afforded by the rosters. Plenty of runs are going to be scored but having Gerrit Cole on the hill gives the Yankees an advantage in the early innings.

Scott Boeck: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3: The powerful arm of Gerrit Cole and bat of Giancarlo Stanton will lead the Bombers over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Stanton is carrying a red-hot bat with 17 homers since mid-August while the rest of the Bronx Bombers have been scoring nearly 65% of their runs via the long ball in their last 24 games.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yankees-Red Sox AL wild-card predictions: Who wins showdown at Fenway?

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