Round Two.

The Boston Red Sox are in New York for their second series of the year with the Yankees. We’ve been looking forward to this ever since Boston’s Joe Kelly drilled Tyler Austin with a pitch April 11 at Fenway Park, reigniting a rivalry that had grown cold in recent years.

At that point, the Red Sox had established themselves as the class of the AL East. They were in the midst of a record-setting 17-2 start, took 2 of 3 from New York and left the Yankees under .500.

Things have changed since then.

The Yankees are 18-3 since leaving Fenway, and have won 15 of 16 heading into the rematch on Tuesday. Didi Gregorius was April’s American League Player of the Month, and Gleyber Torres is part of the second wave of Baby Bombers to make an impact.

On Sunday, the 21-year old became the youngest Yankee to ever hit a walk-off home run. It was the fourth time this season New York won a game when trailing after eight innings.


This isn’t a one-dimensional team. The Yankees have found different ways to win on the way to the second-best record in baseball – behind only Boston.

The Red Sox are also finding ways to win. On Sunday, Sandy Leon crushed his first homer of the year, a three-run shot, to lead Boston to its third straight win. Boston is 16-7 since they last saw the Yankees.

You could spend the better part of an evening in the Old Port arguing over which team has the better nucleus of young players. Rafael Devers had his second career two-home run game Friday night in Texas – and he’s just two months older than Torres.

And then there’s 25-year old Mookie Betts. He finished the weekend with a major league-leading 13 home runs, and was first in the majors in runs, extra-base hits, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS.

All due respect to Gregorius, but at this moment in time Betts is the American League MVP, and arguably the best player in baseball. As NESN analyst Steve Lyons said this weekend, Betts isn’t a five-tool player. He’s a six-tool player. His instincts and awareness complement his skill and ability, as we were reminded Saturday when he caught Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar napping with the ball in his hand and scored from first base on a bloop hit to trigger a comeback win.

Betts left Sunday’s game after being hit in the back by a throw from Texas first baseman Ronald Guzman. The Sox hope he’s ready for New York.


Each team is loaded with talent. We thought they’d be the best two teams in the league this season, and so far that’s exactly what they’ve been.

And they’ve made it clear they don’t care that much for each other. Kelly served a six-game suspension for hitting Austin, while Austin sat out four games. Austin said he doesn’t expect there to be any bad blood between the teams this week.

Kelly – whose actions spurred sales of “Joe Kelly Fight Club” T-shirts around Fenway – said he thinks the rivalry will keep simmering.

“Hopefully we’ll be fighting all season long,” he told’s Rob Bradford. “Metaphorically.”

The Sox and Yankees have been rivals for more than a century. The best moments of the rivalry have been when both teams are vying for first place. That has certainly been the case in 2018.

Before Sunday’s broadcast of the Yankees-Indians game, WFAN’s Suzyn Waldman opened the broadcast saying “there’s nothing better than a Yankees-Red Sox summer.”

Summer isn’t here just yet. But it’s been a Red Sox-Yankees spring, and it’s provided an early spark in the season that has made baseball in Boston fun again.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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