New York and Boston split their four previous playoff series -- the Yankees won the first two (1999 ALCS, 2003 ALCS) and the Red Sox won the last two (2004 ALCS, 2018 ALDS).
As if there needed to be an added layer between these two storied organizations, the fifth winner-take-all meeting between the AL East rivals had all the makings of an instant classic.
The AL wild-card race had a dramatic finish that came down to the final regular-season game. New York punched its ticket with a dramatic walk-off win over the Rays, courtesy of Aaron Judge's ground-ball single. On the other hand, Boston's comeback victory over the Washington Nationals proved to be enough for the top wild-card spot.
Despite finishing the regular season with identical records, Tuesday's game took place at Fenway Park instead of Yankee Stadium because Boston won the season series by just one win and one run in 19 meetings this season.
The homefield advantage worked out to the Red Sox's advantage early on as the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins shared their best wishes ahead of the wild card action. A few big names from other sports were tuned in as well.
#PlayoffBaseball 🔥🔥🔥— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) October 6, 2021
Fenway is jumpin rn!!— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) October 6, 2021
On top of all of that, the Massachusetts State Lottery numbers and presence of Bucky Dent added even more fuel to an already fiery feud.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts started off the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning.
Wow. Cole out. I feel for him. Regardless of all the negative commentary...he's elite and will be one of the best pitchers in the game for years to come. That's a fact. One moment won't define his career and he'll have plenty more opportunities to showcase his true talent!— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) October 6, 2021
The Green Monster played a big factor in this game, preventing the Yankees from producing points.
Giancarlo Stanton fell victim to the green wall -- having a potential home run robbed at the top of the first. He was close to hitting it out of the park again in the sixth, but the baseball bounced off the wall again.
Stanton so close! 😅 pic.twitter.com/V88Jc7ggVJ— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2021
Things were looking bleak for the Bronx Bombers until Anthony Rizzo injected some life into their comeback hopes.
He launched a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning to cut the lead to 3-1.
Rizzo rips it. pic.twitter.com/aHLClgf8dj— New York Yankees (@Yankees) October 6, 2021
Just when the momentum was swinging towards New York, Boston managed to take it back.
Alex Verdugo hit a ball into the right corner, resulting in an RBI double and extending their lead to 4-1. Former Red Sox player and baseball legend David Ortiz was pumped -- to say the least.
Can't get enough of Dugie's double. pic.twitter.com/qZopqyiKqs— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 6, 2021
I told you all thats my dawggg verdugo 🔥🔥— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) October 6, 2021
In an apparent encore, Verdugo generated more offense when he singled to center to drive in Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber during the very next inning.
Ortiz wasted no time reminding fans about Verdugo's timely bat en route to Boston's largest lead of the game.
do I need to say it again? 🤣🤣 my dawgggg https://t.co/TnejJODSOE— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) October 6, 2021
The Red Sox have opened it up!— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2021
They take a 5-run lead headed to the 8th 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lXcGImUkjL
Once the dust settled from another wild-card thriller, Boston secured an ALDS bid against the Tampa Bay Rays, who split the previous two postseason meetings between both teams.
Boston's win marked its eighth in the last nine postseason meetings against the Yankees.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE. pic.twitter.com/Wu8f2jXARA— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 6, 2021
We'll see YOU in the ALDS. pic.twitter.com/A7BNhQueIR— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 6, 2021
congrats boys lets keep it rollin @RedSox ‼️— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) October 6, 2021