The Red Sox versus the New York Yankees now give a home court advantage to the Yankees after a split in Boston. Expect the Red Sox to return serve in New York.
The good and bad news department certainly has a nice 24-hour turnaround as the Boston Red Sox are tied when they could have been in a 0-2 hole going to New York. Boston will now enter a rambunctious Yankee Stadium set for a sweep and a finish to the Red Sox. I expect a split and a dramatic game five in Boston.
There are certain takeaways from the two games at home against the Yankees and the one most notable one surfaced quickly in-game one – the bullpen. Simply because the playoffs have arrived does not mean that one most documented of all issues has gone into hibernation.
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Manager Alex Cora did a magnificent job in Game 1 attempting to find any arm out of the bullpen that could give him outs with any level of consistency. The deterioration in confidence became apparent when starter Rick Porcello was summoned and pressed into service. Expect the Red Sox bullpen to either be a toxic site worthy of an EPA investigation or a shutdown machine. Nothing more consistent than inconsistency from this group.
In a close game, the Yankees have a significant advantage since their lineup has far more players capable of getting you back in the game with just one swing. It is certainly advisable to have no one on base when some of the more statuesque sluggers hack away.
A turning point in the first contest was a foul ball – a common item in any game, but not in this one. Jackie Bradley hammered a shot to left field that was barely foul and would have been a two-run home run. A score of 7-0 is far more comfortable than 5-0 with the Yankees home run adventurism.
Chris Sale did what everyone in Red Sox Nation had hoped for by giving a solid five innings. The good news will really surface if Sale is deemed to have a healthy shoulder and able to make a start in Game 5 if necessary.
The Yankees use of Lance Lynn was the smart move as the right-handed veteran gave a very solid outing. Should the Red Sox have used Nathan Eovaldi the same way? Maybe that would have somewhat mitigated an untrustworthy bullpen.
The loss of Steven Wright cannot be minimized as the knuckleballer was in excellent form after returning from his latest knee injury. With roster moves available this will not leave the Red Sox pitcher short and a replacement will be summoned, but this will be a step down based on Wright’s proven ability.
David Price once again came up small when he needed to come up big. All the regular season wins mean little as long as the litany of playoff failures continue. So far the signing of Price is a failure based on his inability to produce under the glaring spotlight of the postseason. Maybe after his postseason bullpen escapades in 2017 that is where he should be in playoff baseball?
The constant drum roll for Sandy Leon is his great defense and that is quite accurate, but Leon simply is lost with that stick in his paw attempting to get a hit. At least Leon is capable of putting down a bunt. Expect almost a negligible upgrade with either Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart. I expect another catcher to arrive in Boston for 2019.
What is a baseball intangible? Brock Holt gives grinding at-bats and personifies gritty dirt dog appeal similar to Trot Nixon. Holt needs to be either at third or second even against a lefty – and Holt does hit lefties rather well.
Eduardo Rodriguez was once a designated Yankee Killer – maybe not in the mold of Frank Lary, but still quite capable against New York. That seems to have dissipated this season and in game two E-Rod became the catalyst for making a potential comeback a near impossibility.
Zach Britton was every bit the closer of Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman until injuries placed him in stasis. Britton looks to be back on track in the late season and the playoffs and that means the Red Sox better have a lead going into the late innings. Could Britton replace Kimbrel?
The Boston offense will follow the flow of Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. So far New York has played it smart in attempting to put MVP in waiting Betts into a situation where he will punish a pitcher. How Betts goes in New York may determine the outcome.
The Red Sox potential for losing in the first round would certainly have an impact on players and management and by management that means Dave Dombrowski. The moves “Dealin’ Dave” has made are sound, but the long-term consequences are starting to surface. Another first-round exit and DD will be in the “firing line” and I do mean “firing.”
After watching Houston against Cleveland they have to be the favorites for another World Series title. The Astros have the complete package.