A Red Sox Fan’s point of view of this weekend’s New York-Boston series
The Yankees took two of three from the Boston Red Sox in this weekend’s shortened series. Here are some thoughts from a Red Sox fan’s perspective;
1. The Yankees lineup, while clearly not as strong without Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, might be more difficult to pitch to. Last year, the Yankees, while still a dangerous lineup, were too reliant on the home runs. Obviously, it worked, as they set a major league record for homers, but come October when they needed to manufacture runs, they could not. This year, with their hit-or-miss sluggers on the IL, the Yankees have become a more versatile lineup. D.J Lemahieu and Giovanny Urshela have transformed their lineup, each hitting over .300 and bringing a new style to the offense. The Yankees still have home run power in Luke Voit and Gary Sanchez, each who homered in the series, but now they have a lineup that can beat you with power and small ball.
2. The Red Sox are lacking fundamentals. They had no problem hitting the Yankees starters, and they even put some pressure on the Yankee’s bullpen. But they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot in key situations. On Friday, Gary Sanchez picked off Eduardo Nunez with two runners on and Andrew Benintendi at the plate. On Saturday, the Red Sox blew both a first and second, nobody out situation as well as a second and third, one out one. On Sunday, Nunez ended what could have been a big rally by getting caught between first and second after an RBI single, and Andrew Benintendi ended an inning by getting caught stealing third. The biggest difference between last year’s Red Sox and this year’s are the little things, and they will continue to be a mediocre team unless they clean it up.
3. Adam Ottavino is the X-Factor of this year’s rivalry. The fact that Ottavino went to the Yankees over the Red Sox is an absolute game-changer. Ottavino got two holds this weekend, including striking out J.D Martinez with two on and two out in the sixth. With Dellin Betances down with an injury, Ottavino has stepped us as the Yankees most reliable bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman, leading all their relievers with a 1.30 ERA and 35 strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Red Sox bullpen has been solid but not spectacular, as they are still lacking that one truly dominant arm like Ottavino. Ottavino going to the Yankees is at least a five-game swing in the Yankees favor, and that could ultimately decide the division.
4. Brian Cashman did a much better job building his club than Dave Dombrowski because he built his club for the future while the Red Sox built their club based on the past. They dished out 64 million for injury-prone postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, and while the six million they spent on WS MVP Steve Pearce doesn’t seem like a lot, they signed him early in the offseason that it could have prevented them from adding a reliever. In other words, the Red Sox signed players this offseason based on what they had done. The Yankees, however, spent the offseason upgrading their starting rotation with the trade for James Paxton and improved their depth with the acquisitions of D.J Lemahieu, Giovanny Urshela and Adam Ottavino. In short, the Yankees improved, which has come in handy with the injuries to many big players, while the Red Sox chose to bring back two guys who have been injured for large parts of the season and have been ineffective while healthy.
5. The Yankees way of managing their pitching staff is unsustainable. The downfall in the Yankees ALDS loss to the Red Sox last year was their terrible starting pitcher, as three of the four starters in the series failed to record an out in the fourth. This series the starters, while obviously better, still failed to work deep into the games. J.A. Happ was great in Game 1, but only threw five innings, while starter Domingo German failed to get out of the fourth. Though C.C Sabathia gave them six quality innings on Sunday, the Yankees were unable to use any of their elite relievers and instead turned to Luis Cessa and David Hale, who got lit up. If the Yankees starters don’t give them more innings, the bullpen, even though it is elite, will be unable to support them.
6. David Price might be the ace of the Red Sox. There is no question that Chris Sale is the more talented pitcher, but with the money of the table, Price has come through more than his rotation mate. In the playoffs last year, when Chris Sale made only a couple shaky starts, David Price won his last 4 outings, allowing just three runs in his last three outings. In the first game of the series, Chris Sale couldn’t stop the bleeding in a three-run third that ultimately cost the Red Sox the game. After another loss on Saturday, David Price was called on to prevent the Yankees from building a double-digit lead. He came through with his best ever outing in Yankee Stadium, twirling 6.1 innings of two-run ball. Besides a short IL stint, Price has been the best Red Sox pitcher all year long while Sale has been up and down. This could easily change by the end of the season, but as of right now Price is the ace of the staff.
7. The Red Sox aren’t out of it but are hanging on by a thread. Being 10 1/2 games out in June might have been too much to overcome, but keeping it at 8 1/2 was a huge deal for the Sox. The Yankees schedule is going to get a lot harder after the cakewalk that was May, while the Red Sox, after a three-game set in Kansas City, have 15 of 21 games at home. The Red Sox have a lot of work to do, but the division is not over.
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