Can the Red Sox track down the Yankees by playoff time?
By Brendan Howe
With the Red Sox sitting 7 games behind their arch-rivals in the division, is it too much to wonder if they’ll be able to hunt down the Yankees?
The Boston Red Sox picked up their 42nd win of 2019 at home on Friday night, a place that hasn’t been all that friendly to them record wise. The win put Boston at 18-17 at Fenway Park and was arguably their most impressive win this season.
Boston trailed 5-1 at one point, after starter Chris Sale surrendered 4 runs (3 ER) on 7 hits in five innings of work. The bullpen came in once again and virtually shut the door, as manager Alex Cora brought in five arms in relief who all combined to give up just one earned run.
A strong win that can certainly propel a ball club, no doubt, and Boston is finally starting to play like the likable bunch we all came to know a season ago on their magical championship run.
However, even though the Sox are trending upwards, their arch-rivals are on cruise control as well up in the Bronx, steamrolling their competition to the tune of a 48-27 record entering the weekend.
The Tampa Bay Rays also stand in the way of Boston’s path to the top of the AL East, currently resting at a clip of 43-32 and 4.5 behind the Yankees.
Boston is 7 games back of the boys in pinstripes with just under a week until the two squads fly across the pond to meet on neutral ground in the London series.
Now, with 14 games still to come between the division foes, there’s plenty of time between now and the end of the regular season for Boston to make up the ground necessary to put themselves in position for a fourth consecutive division title.
You could take one angle (and perhaps the easier one) by comparing the stats between the two teams, and you would see that New York has clearly been the better of the two clubs rankings-wise. The Yankees hit for much more power, ranking 6th in the MLB in home runs and 7th in RBI, with the Red Sox coming in at 13th and 8th, respectively.
The Red Sox offense hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but taking a look at the pitching numbers tells you a completely different story. New York ranks 8th in the league in ERA, with Boston at 11th.
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The most eye popping number is one you might suspect if you’ve kept close tabs on the Red Sox throughout the season thus far, and that’s the bullpen. The Red Sox have racked up a league-high 14 blown saves while the Yankees have converted 26 of 36 save opportunities. Those 4 additional blown saves is holding Boston back in the standings, but for as bad as the bullpen has been to this point, they’re definitely in a great position as we head towards the All-Star break.
Another way to go about looking at the forecast for the rest of the season is the fact the Yankees have so many players coming off the injured list. Not just regular names, but stars such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino, and Didi Gregorious, just to name a few. That’s what stands out about the Yankees, and to their credit, they’ve built this division lead with guys just trying to make a name for themselves at the Major League level.
However, with the good also comes some bad, and egos might stand in the way in terms of playing time and sacrificing for the good of the team.
That’s what the Red Sox built themselves on last season on their way to capturing the franchise’s ninth World Series championship, was the fact that they didn’t rely on the same guy night in and night out, it was a new hero every night, and that’s what took them to the top.
If this year’s version of the Red Sox can build up that same foundation, they could be a very dangerous ball club by the time the thermometer starts to drop again in the fall.