When shall these two meet again, these indomitable Yankees and doomed Red Sox - warriors in the playoff of 1978, the best game of their age?

In drizzle, mist and fog - under a cloying pall of vivid and bitter memory - on a Fenway Park field of battle surrounded by funeral silence and macabre resignation.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox met again here tonight in a baseball game as dreary and ugly as their last meeting was sublime.

The Yankees, to few Bostonians' surprise, crushed the Sox, 10-0, under a suffocating cloud of 17 hits.

If this slaughter, so reminiscent of last September's Boston Massacre, was drab, it may yet have been significant.

"The Red Sox have changed," said New York's Graig Nettles, the Yankees' best barometer of baseball psychology.

"They seem jittery and nervous. In the past, they were relaxed and just hammered the ball. Now, they're arguing and complaining about every umpiring call.

"Maybe that playoff game last year, and everything they've gone through since, has changed their personality. They seemed like a nervous, worried club tonight."

This first Yank-Sox collison of the year seemed to be played in its own low-pressure bubble - devoid of emotion and almost lobotomized.

This Invasion of the Pennant Snatchers fulfilled every Boston nightmare. It was the hated Yankee Syndrome in full meltdown.

This three-game series was sold out before the season began. Yet what revenge could the Sox have exacted tonight that would have been enough? Would a final score of Boston 100, New York 0, have erased any of the pain of New York's humble one-run 5-4 victory last October?

So, this Yank demolition had on air of fatality about it. Couldn't New York have had the courtesy to let the Sox dream, allow them a league lead to play with? No, the Yanks had to knock them out of first place tonight as the Orioles, winning in Toronto, slipped ahead of the Bosox by a half-game.

Bucky Dent - the man Boston manager Don Zimmer referred to as Bucky Expletive-deleted Dent all winter in honor of his playoff homer - scored the game's first run. What could be more appropriate? In fact, this crowd's largest show of feeling all night was its initial boo for Dent.

Who should knock a crucial bases-loaded ground-rule double into the right field seats but Reggie Jackson - on his birthday. Will Jackson, 33, never desist in this persecution of the Sox?

If you must have a four-hit shutout thrown at you, why not maximize the humiliation and let Jim Beattie, the Yank's worst starter just called up from the minors, be the one to do it. This was the first regular-season complete game of Beattie's career, let alone a shutout.

All New York's best Red Sox tormentors were in fine form. Mickey Rivers reached base his first four times at bat as New York put 17 men on base against starter Mike Torrez, who helped sink himself with three bumping defensive mistakes.

Lou Piniella, whose two defensive playoff gems haunted the Sox sleep all winter, was back in form - exposing Boston's greatest weakness, the absence of injured catcher Carlton Fisk. Piniella, slow of foot, stole a base on sub catcher Gary Allenson, then scored from second on a single by deftly evading Allenson's amateurish block-and-tag at the plate.

Even Jackson was at his hot-dogging best. In the first, he flew out into a doyble play. That's right - center field-to-home-plate. In the fourth he thought he had a long homer to right, but a 20-mile, straight-in wind blew it back in the park. Jackson made sure everyone knew he had been robbed, shaking his head in disbelief that the mere force of nature could thwart him.

In the fifth, when his two-run double skipped into the seats, Jackson ran the whole thing out like a grandslam homer, pretending he had not seen the amateur ump's ground-rule call. He had almost reached the dugout before doing his double-take, as if saying, "You mean 'Buck Tater Man' must settle for a crummy double?"

The crowd of 33,694 knew a bad thing when it saw one. By the time the Sox went out quietly in the ninth, the empty crimson and blue seat backds far outnumbered the remaining faithful. They glistened in the night mist, their bright enthusiasm a stark contrast to the continuing gloom that the New York Yankees continually bring with them to Fenway.