After a little Series Preview hiatus, we are back to talk Yankees versus Red Sox. The Yankees have had an average start to the season sitting at 7-6 and third in the AL East. As rough as it has been for the Yankees, it has been even worse for the Red Sox who are 4-8 and dead last in the division.
Both teams have questions and concerns heading into the first heated series of the year. Starting rotations are at the center of all concerns for both New York and Boston. For the Yankees, there has not been one consistent hurler, including CC Sabathia. The starters only have amounted three quality starts at this point in the year. Tonight’s start, Ivan Nova actually leads the team in wins (two) and ERA (4.15) and is third on the team with strikeouts (17), only behind Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda (both with 22 and one more start than Nova). In the series against Boston, Nova (2-0, 4.15 ERA) will take the mound in the first game followed by Freddy Garcia (0-1, 6.97 ERA) and then Sabathia (1-0, 5.59 ERA) in the finale on Sunday.
For Boston, Clay Buchholz (1-0, 9.82 ERA) will start tonight followed by Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40 ERA) and Daniel Bard (0-2, 4.63 ERA) on Sunday. With all the questions surrounding the Yankees rotation, the Red Sox have more. Where the Yankees have some support in the background with Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda, the Sox are stuck working with what they have until a free agent is picked up (Roy Oswalt?) or a trade is made. Even aces Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have struggled this season, both posting ERA over 5.00.
While both pitching staffs have struggled, the Yankees have a big edge in the bullpen. Surprisingly the highest ERA in the bullpen belongs to..Mariano Rivera at 4.15. David Robertson is on fire again this season throwing seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts. David Phelps has been a nice surprise in his first season and Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano both have ERA under 2.00.
The Red Sox have struggled late in games out of the gates thanks to two former Yankees Aldredo Aceves and Mark Melancon. When closer-to-be Andrew Bailey was lost to injury, Aceves and Melancon were given late game duties and they fell hard, really hard. Aceves does have the two saves for the Sox, but has a 9.00 ERA. Melancon has two losses and a 49.00 ERA, yes 49.00 ERA and was recently sent back down to the minors.
Who will benefit from the struggles of the pitching in this series? Every person who grabs a bat in this series as well as the fans watching. I imagine these three games being high scoring with a lot of home runs and not much pitching. For the Yankees, I expect big things to continue for Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, coming off of a three-homer game. In order for the Yankees offense to take off, Robinson Cano needs to start hitting. Cano is now hitting .241 a far cry from his .304 career average. Once he starts to hit, this offense will be running on all cylinders. The Boston lineup has been led this far by David Ortiz (.383 average), Dustin Pedroia (3 homeruns) and Adrian Gonzalez (8 RBI).
With tonight being the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park (an ugly, yet majestic stadium) the Red Sox and their fans will be rowdy and ready to go. That being said, the Yankees need to come out in the first inning and continue their strong starts at the plate (three runs in the first inning of the last two games). Regardless of the high emotion of the events in Boston, I believe the Yankees will walk away from this series with two wins adding more doubt to Red Sox Nation. Go Yankees!