The Red Sox and Yankees will face off six times over the next three weeks and with the Yankees fighting for the AL East division and possibly their postseason lives, Boston still has something to play for. Even though the Sox are far removed from any hope of playing meaningful October baseball, spoiling the Yankees party would be a token of consolation, albeit a small and minor one. Still, helping knock the Evil Empire out of the postseason would be a reason to cheer.
The Yankees held a division lead as much as 7 games over Baltimore and Tampa Bay in mid-August, but a reeling ball club that has battled injuries and a surging Orioles and Rays teams, New York could be feeling the heat. Ask the Boston players who were on the team that collapsed last September how much pressure they start to feel when the games are dwindling down and momentum is far from your side. While they’ll never admit it , the Yankees have to be feeling the pressure. And for the Red Sox, this is the perfect opportunity to throw a wrench into New York’s plans.
But it won’t be easy. The Yankees still possess one of the best bullpens in baseball along with an offense that can explode at any given minute. The Red Sox bats are sputtering along and the pitching has been decent, but not good enough on a consistent basis, meaning any Boston victory will be well earned and hard fought.
The last time both New York and Boston both missed the postseason in the same year was 1993 when the Toronto Blue Jays won the division one year prior to having the Wild Card added. The Jays also went on to win the World Series in what was their second in a row. While the Jays won’t be playing for the championship this year either, the Sox can allow a team like the Orioles or even the Rays to snag the division and a berth in the ALDS.
On a year where Red Sox fans haven’t had much to cheer about and knowing their club is out of the postseason hunt in early August, having the Yankees come to town, beat up and free falling, is a welcomed visit. How sweet it would be to see Boston take two of three against the Bronx Bombers and further complicate their lives when trying to take yet another AL East title. You know the wily veterans like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez with other spark plugs like Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher will bring their A game meaning the Red Sox will have to play flawless baseball over the next three days. But it can be done and anytime the Yankees invade Fenway Park you know the home team will have a little extra incentive to go out and play hard. Even on a year where there is nothing to officially play for, seeing the biggest rival crumble into the depths of despair and the ranks of no October baseball is motivation enough.