Yankees drop season finale in Boston

Yankees drop season finale in Boston

BOSTON -- The Red Sox punched their ticket to the postseason on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, and in the process, punched the Yankees' ticket to Southern California.

New York's 10-1 loss to Boston in the regular-season finale cost the Yankees home-field advantage in their American League Division Series matchup against the Angels, while the Red Sox wrapped up their third consecutive Wild Card entry into the playoffs.

Boston actually clinched its postseason spot before the game was over, as the Indians lost to the White Sox earlier on Sunday afternoon.

The Yankees and Red Sox finished the season with identical 95-67 records, but the Bombers won the American League East title by taking the season series, 10-9.

"We know how evenly matched we are," said manager Joe Torre. "We're sitting here as division champs because we were 10-9 against them; you can't get much more balanced than that.

"There's a chance we'll meet each other again, and if that happens, it will be another shootout."

The Yankees, Red Sox and Angels each finished the season at 95-67, but the Angels earned the AL's No. 2 seed as a result of their 6-4 season series win over the Yankees. The White Sox are the top seed, finishing the season at 99-63.

New York will travel to Anaheim on Sunday night, where it will open the Division Series against the Angels on Tuesday night. Game 2 will be played Wednesday, with the series returning to the Bronx on Friday for Game 3.

"We had to go on the road eventually, anyway, so it's just a matter of where you're going to start," said Derek Jeter. "We've been playing well. The last month, we've been playing do-or-die games, so I don't think it will be any different."

"If we do well early, maybe we only have to make one trip; if it's a battle and we don't, we have to make two. Whatever it is, it is," Torre said. "We feel pretty excited about being in this situation because of how long it took us to get here. We're certainly not bent out of shape about it."

Jaret Wright (5-5) was roughed up for three runs in 3 1/3 innings, while Scott Proctor allowed a three-run homer by Manny Ramirez to cap a five-run fourth, giving Boston a 6-0 lead after four innings.

Wright, who started in place of Mike Mussina after the Yankees tabbed him their Game 1 starter, allowed three hits and walked five.

"He hasn't been out there in a week," Torre said. "He wasn't sharp, but his velocity was good. He didn't have his command the whole time."

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Season Series
• 10/02: Red Sox 10, Yankees 1
• 10/01: Yankees 8, Red Sox 4
• 09/30: Red Sox 5, Yankees 3

Curt Schilling took the lead and ran with it, holding the Yankees to one run over six innings, evening his record at 8-8.

Doug Mirabelli and Bill Mueller also homered for Boston, which now travels to Chicago to open the Division Series against the White Sox on Tuesday.

"[Boston's] ballclub is so good," Torre said. "If you don't pitch, you're not going to beat them. We put ourselves in some bad counts in bad situations."

Despite losing the season series to the Angels, the Yankees are confident heading into the postseason. The two teams haven't met since July 31, when the Yankees took two of three from the Angels in the Bronx.

The Yankees team that will take on the Angels is much different than the one that Los Angeles saw earlier in the year, as New York enters the postseason with 16 wins in its last 21 games.

"If we go out and play the way we have the last month or so, I'm sure we're going to be fine," Jeter said. "They've always played us tough, but at this point in the season, every team you play is going to be difficult. The best team over the next five games will win."

"The way we're swinging the bats, we match up well against anyone's pitching," said Alex Rodriguez. "They have good pitching, a great bullpen and they catch the ball. They're playing good baseball and so are we."

This will mark the first time since 2000 that the Yankees will open the postseason on the road. That year, New York dropped the opener, then won the next two games. After losing Game 4, it was forced to fly back to Oakland, where it won the series in Game 5.

"If you have a Game 5, that's the home-field advantage," Torre said. "We've never been intimidated on the road, and we won a pretty impressive Game 5 when we had to go to Oakland to do that."

Torre feels that the presence of Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera in his bullpen helps equalize the disadvantages of being the visiting team.

"Being on the road, you need to have good pitching late," Torre said. "I'm pretty comfortable with the guys we throw out there."

As the Yankees prepared to leave Boston, someone asked Torre if he expected to be back in the visiting manager's office at Fenway Park for a third consecutive AL Championship Series against the rival Red Sox.

"That means we got through the first round," the manager said. "That's all I really care about. Whoever we happen to play, so be it."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.