A game and a half back of the Red Sox is where the Yankees find themselves as yet another three game series is set to begin in Boston. More important than the gap between the two teams, is the dominance the Red Sox have had over the Yankees this season so far owning a 10-2 against the Pinstripes.
The Yankees need to turn this lopsided match up more towards their favor if they want a chance at winning the AL East this year. They turn to CC Sabathia tonight to get that trend going the other way. However, Sabathia hasn’t been himself against the rival Sox this season with a 0-4 record with a 7.20 ERA, while going 17-3 with a 2.40 ERA against all other opponents. He will have to deal with a potent line up who have had their way with him this year. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .439 against the Yankees and Jacoby Ellsbury has a team-high 13 RBI versus New York. Also trying to slow down Boston will be Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett. Neither, Hughes or Burnett will have the head-to-head advantage in their pitching match ups as Hughes will face Josh Becket (11-5, 2.43 ERA) on Wednesday and Burnett will face Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA). The only pitching match up that may favor the Yankees is tonight in Sabathia’s start against John Lackey (12-9, 5.98 ERA).
When the Yankees are up to bat, they haven’t produced much thunder against the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are all hitting under .200 against Boston this year. With Jeter and Rodriguez nicked up going into the series, the Yankees may need Edwardo Nunez and Eric Chavez produce in their absence. This will put more pressure on Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and the rest of the line up to fire up the Yankees bats to battle with the high octane Red Sox order. They will have to do it against Lackey, Beckett and Lester, all of which they have had little to no success against this season.
This series could ultimately eliminate the Yankees from the AL East division crown if they were to lose two games in this series and drop to 2.5, or even 4.5 games back if they are swept.
I think the Yankees are about to hit a rut in their schedule, especially with losing a travel day thanks to Hurricane Irene and having to play a lot of games until the end of the season. A trip to Boston is always tough, and this series seems to be more of the same. I’d like to think Sabathia’s woes would stop against Boston tonight, so I will pick them to win tonight. If they do, it could give them hope to take another one and pick up a game in the division. So, depending on tonight’s game, if the Yanks can win tonight, from a big start from Sabathia, they will win two. If they lose tonight, a sweep seems likely.
NYYUniverse.com Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @Justin_McElrath