Yankees Marathons Wipe Out Sox

Terry Francona was surely disappointed when the Red Sox, fresh off an exhausting three-game series against the Yankees, fell 6-1 to the Blue Jays Monday in Toronto. But judging by comments he made after the Yankees finale late Sunday night, he may not have been shocked.

"I think we beat each other up so much—both teams hold the energy level really well, but it takes a toll on both teams," Francona said after the Sox fell, 4-3. "I bet you Joe [Torre] would probably agree."

Struggling immediately after facing the Yankees is nothing new for the Sox, who played the Yankees three times on Sunday night this year and lost the next day's game each time.

After beating the Yankees 7-6 at Fenway Park Apr. 22, the Sox fell to the Blue Jays, 7-3, at Fenway Park Apr. 23. And the Sox followed up a 6-5 loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park June 3 with a 5-4 loss to the Athletics in Oakland June 4.

The Sox, whose lead over the Yankees in the AL East slipped to 3 ½ games—it's the first time the Sox have led the division by less than four games since May 1—must hope history does not continue to repeat itself as they attempt to stave off the Yankees and win their first AL East title since 1995. The Sox also lost to the Jays at Fenway Apr. 24 and did not suffer consecutive losses again until a four-game skid from June 3-6.

A post-Yankees exhaustion would be understandable. The nine weekend games against the Yankees at Fenway this season have lasted—we kid you not—2,004 minutes. That's 33 hours and 24 minutes of baseball. None lasted less than three hours—the duel Sunday came the closest, clocking in at a crisp three hours and 10 minutes—and two lasted more than four hours, including the marathon Friday that ended after four hours and 43 minutes, a mere two minutes shy of the record set by, no kidding, the Sox and Yankees last Aug. 18.

NEWS AND NOTES: A combined 569 wins and 7,776 strikeouts took the mound Sunday when Roger Clemens (354 wins and 4,668 strikeouts) squared off against Curt Schilling (215 wins and 3,108 strikeouts)...Today marks the Sox' 153rd straight day atop the AL East dating back to Apr. 18. That's the longest streak for the Sox since they led the AL for the final 155 days of the 1946 season. The Sox will break that record with one win or one Yankees loss over the next three days...These are not your dad's Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of second in the first inning Sunday was the Sox' 86th steal in 108 attempts, an AL-best success rate of 79.6 percent. That would be the best ratio since at least 1920, the first year such statistics are available. The current best: 78.9 percent in 2005...With a .321 average, Dustin Pedroia is on pace to finish with the highest batting average ever by a second baseman. Jim Viox hit .317 for Pittsburgh in 1913.

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752. To subscribe to Diehard or diehardmagazine.com, please CLICK HERE.

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