Anything said about the history of the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry can probably be considered a bromide at this juncture. But what cannot yet be said is the outcome of this upcoming series.
As of the time of this post, the Red Sox own a 5.5 game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Beginning at 7:10 P.M. on Thursday, the two will meet for the tenth time this season, initiating a four-game series at Boston’s baseball cathedral, Fenway Park.
Though Boston has outscored the Yankees 53-49 in the first nine encounters this year, the Yankees own a 5-4 record against them. If it’s any consolation for Aaron Boone and his squad, Chris Sale will miss his start for this series, which could provide a boost for the Bombers.
For Thursday night’s contest, it’ll be Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees, and Brian Johnson for Boston. On Friday, the featured hurlers will be the struggling Luis Severino against Rick Porcello.
For Saturday and Sunday, the pitching match-ups will be J.A. Happ vs former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi (the latter of whom was acquired last week), and the resurgent Masahiro Tanaka vs David Price, respectively.
Reassuring for the visiting Evil Empire is the fact that they will be facing two southpaws during this series (Johnson and Price, the latter of whom probably needs a Zen Master prior to every start against the Yankees by now). Against lefthanded pitching this season, easily own the most prolific offense.
What’s even more reassuring is the fact that Sonny Gray will not be on the mound during this series. It has become unequivocally clear that the former Cy Young finalist should see his days in pinstripes become numbered.
Despite the several circumstances that favor the Yankees going into this series, it is important to keep in mind that Aaron Judge will likely miss the majority of this month. This season, the second-year slugger owns 1.398 OPS against Boston, and that includes four home runs and 9 RBIs in nine games. His bat will be missed.
That being said, the Yankees rotation is truly not inferior to Boston’s. And with the bullpens, would you take Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel, or Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, A.J. Cole, and Lance Lynn?
If prior meetings this season are any indication, there should be extraordinarily acrimonious tensions all throughout this series. But the end goal here is to exit Boston with a series win, if not a sweep. two-thirds of the season is done, and anything greater than the current deficit for supremacy in the East may prove to be insurmountable.
The Baby Bombers vs the Redcoats. Round 3. Winner-take-a bigger lead or make a big comeback, and bragging rights, of course. Bring it on.