It’s round two of Yankees vs. Red Sox this week. The Rivalry resumes at Fenway Park as the teams meet in their second series of the season.
The Yankees took three of four from the Red Sox in the Bronx a week and a half ago as the Sox could not get a big hit in the series and were on the short end of two instant replay reviews.
Now, as the teams meet at Fenway the next three nights, they are separated by only two games in the standings. The Yanks enter 11-8 and Boston 9-11 after a tough Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Patriot’s Day.
I previewed the series with Yanks Go Yard staff writer Ricky Keeler on his weekly radio show Sunday night and you can hear the entire discussion by clicking here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/
As for some of the topics we discussed, the Red Sox need to find a way to start stringing together some wins at home and what better time than now with their hated rivals in town? They are only 4-6 at Fenway so far this season but have looked better in recent days.
In the final two games of the weekend series against the Orioles, the Red Sox finally got the bats going. Their inability to do so consistently has been their biggest issue so far this season.
Then, on Patriot’s Day Monday, the Sox rallied again after going down 6-0 to the O’s after three innings by putting the winning runs on base in the ninth inning. They got into that position by chipping away all game at the Oriole bullpen before finally falling short 7-6.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are coming off a four game split in Tampa Bay in which they were mauled in their two losses, 11-5 and 16-1, by an offensively challenged Rays lineup.
Suddenly, the Yankees rotation isn’t so deep when they have to roll out the likes of Nuno and David Phelps to replace Nova. Neither of those two will pitch in this series, but going forward it could be a problem area for the Yanks who have started off well because of their starting pitching.
Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup vs. the Rays so that should give the Yanks a boost but, as always, this series should come down to who pitches better. The match ups are very good.
Game one pits Jon Lester against new Yankee icon Masahiro Tanaka. Lester pitched well in the only game the Sox won in New York and is pitching like he is in a contract year. Which, of course, he is. Expect Lester to again be tough on the Yanks in the series opener.
Tanaka was not supposed to pitch in this series but scheduling adjustments pushed him forward and it will be interesting to see how he fares against a Sox lineup that knows how to grind at bats and has been doing a better job of it in the last week or so. They’ll want to drive up that pitch count quickly.
Pineda so far has pitched like he did his rookie year in Seattle when he teamed with King Felix Hernandez to give the Mariners a dynamic pitching duo. Expect Pineda to again give the Red Sox fits as Lackey tries to right his ship after two shaky starts in a row.
In game three of the series it will be Felix Doubront vs. Sabathia. And until Sabathia shows me he can beat the Red Sox, I’m going to assume he will struggle against them.
Doubront has been up and down this season as he sometimes has been victimized by the one bad inning syndrome. In games where he has it pop up he has been shelled. But when he is able to limit damage he has been very good.
The last time these guys pitched in the series in New York, Sabathia had the one bad inning in losing to Lester as Grady Sizemore hit a three-run homer off him that ended up being the difference in the game.
Doubront worked the final game of that series in New York and was very good, tossing 6.2 innings and allowing only three earned runs on seven hits. But the offense did not support him and he ended up losing 3-2. If Doubront can do that again, the Sox will be in good shape in the series finale.
And as we wrap up, no, I didn’t forget Jacoby Ellsbury. He returns to Fenway for the first time as a Yankee and many wonder about the reception he will get.
I think it will be somewhere less than the vicious boos Johnny Damon received (deservedly) in his return. At least Ellsbury didn’t proclaim he would never sign with the Yankees and then do so the first chance he got.
Plus, Ellsbury was always a quiet player in Boston who didn’t say much. I think he will get a lot of cheers for his contributions when he comes to bat in the first inning.
After that all bets are off. He will be a full-fledged Yankee after the fans tip their caps so expect a chorus of boos the rest of the series whenever Ellsbury is involved.
The biggest thing for the Red Sox, if they want to win this series, is to figure out how to get Ellsbury out. He was 5-14 in the series in New York with two runs, two walks, two RBI and two steals. He basically embarrassed the Sox with his play and was in the middle of every rally.
It’s never dull when these two teams get together. With Ellsbury’s return and the possible return of Shane Victorino from the disabled list for Boston, expect more of the same the next three days.
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