Johnny Damon hit the second pitch of the night into the right-field upper deck. The Red Sox looked as if they were ready to burst by the Yankees again.
Then, New York made Boston’s April dominance seem like distant history.
Gary Sheffield hit a three-run homer, Tony Clark sent a rare drive into the center-field bleachers and Javier Vazquez beat the Red Sox for the first time in his career, leading the Yankees to an 11-3 victory Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
“We were jacked up for this one,” Sheffield said.
With Vice President Dick Cheney looking on and a sellout crowd of 55,231 yelling from the first pitch, there was a postseason atmosphere at Yankee Stadium. And the Yankees, who were 1-6 against Boston in April and dropped 4 1/2 games out of first, responded with a playoff-type performance, opening a 6 1/2-game lead in the American League East over the second-place Red Sox.
New York has never failed to finish first after leading by at least 6 1/2 games. The 1933 Yankees led by six, then finished behind Washington.
“You want to try to get some breathing room,” shortstop Derek Jeter said.
Damon had a pair of solo homers and David Ortiz hit his 20th, tying teammate Manny Ramirez for the league lead. But the Red Sox, seeking to win four in a row at Yankee Stadium in one season for the first time since 1986, were done in by atrocious defense and a poor outing by Derek Lowe (6-7), who gave up a career-high nine runs, although only five were earned.