Its that time of the year. On Tuesday night, the Yankees will begin a 3 game series at Fenway against the Red Sox, with people debating just how important the series is. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s only June. However, I think this series is much more important than people will believe. The Yankees have recently taken over first place and the Red Sox will be a very good test to see just how well they are playing.
These are some of the reasons why I believe this series is very crucial:
1. The Yankees are 0-5 against the Red Sox this season. Granted, they didn’t have A-Rod for any of the first 5 games, but they have not yet shown they can beat the Sox this year and they need to do so.
2. The Yankees have recently taken over first place. If they can take 2 out of 3 against the Sox, they will win their first series of the year against them, and will open up a 2 game lead on them in the division.
3. This is a good test for both clubs, especially the pitching. The Yankees starters have been pitching a lot better of late, but the bullpen is still up in the air. A couple of games might come down to late inning relief, which is always important in these series. The Red Sox have not had great starting pitching of late, with Lester being the only one with great consistency. Becket has been good, but not great, and game 1’s matchup of Beckett v. Burnett will be a good one.
Game 1: AJ Burnett v. Josh Beckett
Burnett has pitched very well against the Red Sox with a 5-0 career record. The Yankees need to take game 1 if they want to win the series.
Game 2: Chien-Ming Wang v. Tim Wakefield:
Wang has been terrible so far this year, and has just come back from injury. This will be a huge test for him, and it will be difficult, but important for him to give the Yankees 5 or 6 quality innings. Wakefield has always pitched the Yankees well and is having a quality year.
Game 3: CC Sabathia v. Brad Penny:
This is a game the Yankees must have. It is their ace vs. Penny, a backend starter for the Sox. It will be interesting to see how Sabathia pitches in a big game like this against the Sox.
Keys to the series:
1. While I believe A-Rod is a very overrated player, and while he does not perform well against the Red Sox, his presence in the lineup will make a huge difference. Mark Teixeira has been on fire since A-Rod’s return because of the protection he provides. The Yankees now have almost their full lineup on the field, and they have Melky Cabrera, a .300 hitter batting 9th. The Yankees will be a much different team than they were in the first 5 games.
2. The bullpens of the teams will play huge roles in the series. The Red Sox have a huge advantage in the pen, and the Yankees might be in trouble if they have to get a one run lead to Rivera in the late innings. If the Yankees bullpen pitches well, this will be huge for them.
3. The Yankees will have to shut down Jason Bay to have a good chance of winning. He has been having a great year, and has made Sox fans begin to think ‘Manny who?’
The Yankees will take 2 out of 3 due to the pitching matchups. I believe Burnett and Sabathia will pitch well, and while Wang is up in the air, he could pitch up to his potential. The Yankees have more motivation due to the thrashing they received in the first 5 games, and will want to prove they can beat the Red Sox. A-Rod’s presence in the lineup will make a huge difference for the Yankees offense, and will allow Teixeira to play a bigger role in the series.