The Red Sox have a terrific infield defense. Dustin Pedroia at second, Adrian Gonzalez at first, the combination of Mike Aviles and Pedro Ciriaco at short and Will Middlebrooks and now Nick Punto at third are all having terrific seasons in the field. But Middlebrooks is gone. Kevin Youkilis is gone. Pedroia, for all his accolades, has given the Red Sox only 2.4 batting runs all season (due in part to nagging injuries). Aviles has a .285 on-base percentage. Despite his Yankee-killing, Ciriaco has walked twice in 112 plate appearances and Punto, who is useful in doses, is an offensive pit as a regular.
Carl Crawford, despite some offense this season once he came off the DL, has not looked like the same player he was in his Tampa days. Plus, Crawford has only walked three times in 125 plate appearances. A decision will be made today, apparently, to see if he is going to be shut down for the rest of the season. With the current state of the Red Sox, he should be.
Since Jacoby Ellsbury has come off the disabled list, he looks a far cry from the 2011 version that almost won an MVP award. He used to strike fear last year whenever he came to the plate. Now he seems a non-entity and only has one homer in 42 games. And of course, that biggest of Yankee killers, David Ortiz has missed the last month with his Achilles heel problem.
No, this has not been the same Red Sox the Yankees have battled for the last decade and Bobby Valentine or no, the shortcomings of the Red Sox would have been hard for any manager to overcome. You also have to wonder how much of the pitching problems they have endured come from the discomfort of pitching to Saltalamacchia on a regular basis. And gosh, even Jesus Montero looked like a better catcher than Lavarnway, who might have cost Josh Beckett two runs last night at the very least.
On the Yankees side of things, an oft-quoted biblical line says that the young shall lead you. That does not apply to the Yankees. The 38 year old Derek Jeter had three hits including two doubles and scored two runs. The 39 year old Ichiro had three hits including two homers and a 37 year old Hiroki Kuroda threw a one-run, four-hit gem of a game. The aged Yankee players continue to inspire and terrify. Inspire because of the way they are performing and terrify because you never know how long it can last.
The Red Sox are a shell of their former glory and any build up to a series with that team seems a bit of a stretch. They are just another sub-.500 team the Yankees have to beat to get to the post season. There is some satisfaction in that statement. But a tinge of sadness as well.