Featured Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
It is no secret that the Yankees have been red-hot, winning 15 of their last 16 games, taking down teams like Houston and Cleveland in the process. But you know who else has been really good? The Boston Red Sox. They will meet as the two best teams in baseball this week in the Bronx and here is your 9-innings preview:
1st inning – It has been awhile since it has meant this much – The Yankees have won 15 of their last 16. The Red Sox won 17 of their first 19 games. According to Elias, the combined teams’ winning percentage of .721 as they start a three-game set in the Bronx this week is the highest the two have had with at least 60 games between them since June 1946. Oh, and also, there is just one game between them in the American League East. Yes, it is May 8, but this definitely has a September feel to it.
2nd inning – Are Sox good or taking advantage of weaker schedule? – I am not taking anything away from Boston because getting out to a 24-9 start is no easy feat. Looking at their schedule, however, and they have been dealt a good hand. Only nine of their 33 games to start the seasons are against teams that are currently over .500, and one of those is Oakland who sits just one game above the even mark.
3rd inning – Sox shorthanded – After Chris Sale pitched on Sunday and dominated the Texas Rangers, he will not be throwing in this series for the Red Sox, putting them at a disadvantage already. Throw in the fact that Brock Holt and Mookie Betts are both injured and could miss the series, and Bostonians are put at a disadvantage heading into New York.
4th inning – Severino seeks redemption – In his first start against New York’s hated rivals, Severino threw five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks. This was Boston’s 14-1 series-opening victory. Since then, he is a new man, with a 1.24 ERA in four starts following the loss, 32 strikeouts and just five walks in 29 innings. This also includes a complete-game shutout against the defending World Series Champion Astros.
5th inning – Can Sabathia continue to own the Sox – Sabathia combines a hot streak and Red Sox domination into his projected start on Thursday. He has allowed just one ER in his last 23.1 innings through his last four starts. This, along with a 1.04 ERA and a perfect 4-0 record against the Red Sox in 2017, makes him a favorable pitcher for the Yankees in the series finale.
6th inning – Bullpen struggles over? – After what was a very rough start to the season, the Yankees seem to have some sort of sense in their bullpen now. Aroldis Chapman has calmed down to record seven saves in the early season, while David Robertson and Chad Green have slowly started to lower their ERAs. It also seems like Dellin Betances is somewhat back on track, at least for one inning each outing.
7th inning – Look for big Tyler Austin hits – Before Austin and Joe Kelly decided to throw down, Tyler Austin was having a great series and continued his title as the Red Sox killer. In his career, he has a .409/.500/.773 slash line vs. their AL East rivals and is also coming off suspension. If that does not spell out a big week for Austin in the Bronx, I’m not sure what does.
8th inning – Which youngster comes up big next? – We have seen Gary Sanchez go deep against Houston, Miguel Andujar drive a base hit down the line in walk-off fashion and Gleyber Torres send one out just to the right of monument park to end a game on Sunday. All three of those players are 25 or under. Oh, and Domingo German (25), threw six no-hit innings against Cleveland on Sunday. It seems like the Yankees have the magic touch when it comes to younger players and I would not be surprised if another one of the players a big role this week.
9th inning – How long can bats stay hot? – In this stretch of 15 wins in 16 games, the Yankees are outscoring opponents by 59 runs and averaging over six runs per game. Not only is that helping them win games, but it is helping the pitchers get comfortable, as they have allowed four or less runs all but three times in this stretch. Against a Sale-less rotation this week and David Price, a pitcher the Yankees seem to own, do not be surprised if they continue to hit the ball hard this week.
Extras – Flashing back to 2002 – So this is the first time the Yankees and Red Sox meet with the two best records in baseball since June of 2002, when the Red Sox were 36-16 and the Yankees were 37-19. The Red Sox took two of three in that series, ending the weekend two games up in the division. They would go just 57-52 the rest of the season would the Sox, finishing 10.5 games back of the Yankees and missing the playoffs altogether. New York would fall to the Angels in the ALDS, and Anaheim would go on to win the World Series. Funny how baseball works isn’t it?
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @lilboon throughout the series and the summer as I’ll be providing analysis and insight into the Yankees for RSN.