Yankees-Red Sox Preview: Will Yanks Pull Away or Will Sox Gain Ground?
Added by Elizabeth DiPietro on July 6, 2012.
Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz will look to help their teams score runs this weekend as the Yankees and Red Sox battle at Fenway.
This season, the Yankees are 12-12 against the behemoth that is the American League East, the only division in baseball in which all teams are currently over .500. On the Fourth of July they salvaged the last game of their series against the Rays, their first win in Tampa since last season.
Despite their mediocre record against their division rivals, the Yanks carry a 5 ½ game lead over the Baltimore Orioles heading into their weekend series in Boston. And we remember what happened last time we went there, right?
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine described the Yankees’ dramatic comeback from a 9-0 deficit on April 21 as “rock bottom” for his team, but since then they have crawled out of the trenches to become respectable. They are currently in fourth place with a 42-40 record.
Seven and a half games separate the two teams, but Yankee-Red Sox games always exude a playoff atmosphere. Plus, they are making up the rained-out game from April 22, so fans are treated to a four-game set this weekend that includes a doubleheader on Saturday. Depending on what happens, the weekend can either give the Red Sox a chance to make up a lot of ground or enable the Yankees to surge farther ahead.
Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.17) will face Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.06) in Friday’s opener. The Yankees shouldn’t let Beckett’s mediocre season numbers fool them into complacency; he’s 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last six starts against the Yankees. Kuroda, however, has been electric in his last seven starts, going 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA over that stretch. Overall, Yankee pitching is beating Red Sox pitching with a 3.71 ERA to Boston’s 4.11.
The rest of the weekend’s pitching matchups shape up like this: Phil Hughes and Franklin Morales in Game 1 on Saturday; Freddy Garcia and Felix Doubront in Game 2; and Ivan Nova and Jon Lester on Sunday night. Familiar faces in the rivalry such as Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, and Clay Buchholz are all noticeably absent this weekend due to injuries.
As for hitting, both teams have similar averages hovering in the .260s. The one glaring discrepancy is average with the bases loaded. The Sox are hitting a robust .344 with the bases loaded, compared to the Yanks’ pathetic .188. Hopefully they will follow the lead of their hottest player right now, Robinson Cano, who socked a bases-loaded single in the top of the eighth on Wednesday to put the Yanks ahead. A significant absence from the Red Sox lineup this weekend will be Dustin Pedroia, who is expected to go on the disabled list because of a torn muscle in his thumb.
No doubt this weekend’s series will be drama-filled and long; Yankee-Sox games last season averaged 3 hours and 24 minutes. That’s nearly seven hours of baseball on Saturday.
And if you’re like me, you can’t wait.