After getting crushed by the New York Yankees in games 1 and 2 this past weekend, the Sox salvaged the series and perhaps the season by dropping a 9-spot on A.J. Burnett on Sunday. With a three game set coming up against the team immediately in front of the Sox in the AL East standings, the Toronto Blue Jays, the series beginning on Monday is a must win if the Sox want to turn the 2010 season around.
Sitting at .500 (16-16), the Sox find themselves 6.5 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees with the Toronto Blue Jays sitting 4 games out of the AL East lead in 3rd place. As the season wears on, the Yankees and Rays are going to continue to win, so if the Sox fall any further behind in 4th place, they will find themselves on the outside looking in at the All-Star break. The best way for the Sox to start closing the gap, is to win series’ against AL East teams. Since the Blue Jays are traveling to Boston for a 3-game set beginning Monday, there is no better time than now.
If the Sox can take at least 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays, they gain a game on the team from north-of-the-border and begin to close in on the 3rd spot in the division. On the other hand, if the Sox lose the series to the Blue Jays and fall further back in 4th place, they will find themselves in a massive hole behind 3 teams who are playing well. If there is such a thing as a must-win series in May, this is it for the beantown bashers.
The pitching match-ups in the series should be interesting, especially with the breaking news this afternoon that Josh Beckett’s start on Wednesday was postponed until Friday. In game 1, righty Brandon Morrow will match-up against John Lackey, the most favorable head-to-head on paper for the Sox. In games 2 and 3, the Sox will put Dice-K Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield on the mound to face lefty Dana Eveland and righty Shaun Marcum respectively. Eveland has been solid this year, with a 3-1 record and an era of 3.82, while Shaun Marcum has a strong 3.19 era with an unimpressive 1-1 record.
If this version of the Boston Red Sox is going to make a surge and close the division gap, they need better performances from Dice-K and Wakefield, especially against the Blue Jays. Dice-K is hopefully beginning to feel comfortable after missing a lot of time due to his neck and back injuries and Wakefield is looking to prove he belongs in the rotation and not in the bullpen. Winning is contagious, let’s hope the Sox catch the bug.
Topics: A.J. Burnett, AL East, Boston Red Sox, Brandon Morrow, Dana Eveland, Dice-K, John Lackey, Josh Beckett, New York Yankees, Series Pitching Match-Ups, Series Preview, Shaun Marcum, Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Wakefield, Toronto Blue Jays