Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox IV: Just win

You'd be smiling too if you were hitting .324/.405/.676 against the Yankees on the season (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Yankees kick off a three-gamer in Fenway Park this weekend, and while on the face of it this series isn’t any more or less important than any other, from a “we’-re 1-8 against our archrival and haven’t beaten Boston since the 8th game of the season” perspective, it’s perhaps a tad bigger of a deal than it otherwise would be. However, despite the fact that it’s only early August, both the Yankees and Red Sox are already near-locks to make the playoffs. The only remaining questions for these two franchises are (1) which team will win the division, and (2) do the Bombers have any chance of beating Boston (if you’re convinced the answer’s an easy “no,” you just might be surprised) if the Yankees and Red Sox meet up in the ALCS?

Since completing their historic second straight sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx back on June 9, the Red Sox have been out of control, having gone 31-15 (note: all numbers cited in this post are through games of Tuesday, August 2) since leaving Yankee Stadium, during which time they actually fell back into second place, but recaptured first on July 7 and haven’t looked back.… Click here to read the rest

Game Thread and Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox II: Maybe let's not let Dustin Pedroia pick up nine hits this time

CC striking Big Papi out for the third time on August 7, 2010

The Yankees and their arch-rivals to the north, the Boston Red Sox, square off tonight in the first of three in Boston’s first trip to Yankee Stadium of the season. While this probably has more to do with the inherent randomness of the schedule than anything else, this is actually the first time the Red Sox come into a series at Yankee Stadium with a losing record since 1997. Last season they were 19-19 upon their first arrival at the Stadium in May, and split the two-game series to depart with a .500 record. The last time the Red Sox left the Bronx with a losing record was in 2005, after the Yankees took two of three at home to open the season.

When these two teams last met a little over a month ago, the Sox had stumbled to a rather shocking 0-6 start, fueled by a total lack of offense and some brutal pitching performances.… Click here to read the rest

Yanks battle back, top Texas 6-5 in see-saw contest in the Bronx

Grandy lets it fly (photo c/o The AP)

In a game that saw four collective blown leads, the Yankees outlasted the Rangers 6-5 (in an ESPN Sunday Night Marathon Heartbreaker, no less!) on the strength of three more timely long balls and a huge go-ahead base hit.

This one started somewhat strangely, with CC Sabathia uncharacteristically giving up a two-run home run in the top of the first to Adrian Beltre, on a pitch that really wasn’t all that bad — a high 94mph fastball that was actually a ball — and all you could really do was tip your cap to Beltre for managing to not only get around on the pitch but put it into the seats. In fact, it was basically the Beltre and Michael Young show for Texas on offense all night, with Beltre lofting an excuse-me single on another ball, this time low and away, for his third RBI in the fourth; and knocking Young in as the go-ahead run (and 4th RBI of the evening) a half-inning after Russell Martin launched a game-tying two-run shot (his 4th of the season!).… Click here to read the rest

Series Preview: Yankees vs. Rangers I

A rare positive moment from the 2010 ALCS (photo c/o Reuters)

The top two offenses in the league square off for three games in the Bronx this weekend as the Yankees (7-4, 1st in the AL East) host the AL West-leading Rangers and try to exact some measure of revenge on the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the 2010 American League Championship Series last October.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Rangers have been the hottest team in baseball, racing out to an MLB-best 9-3 record over their first 12 contests. The Rangers have done it by both clobbering the opposition (AL-leading .360 wOBA) and pitching out of their minds (AL-leading 2.55 staff ERA). I figured Texas was going to be good again, but I don’t think anyone thought they’d bust out of the gate this good.

Receiving outstanding pitching performances from three starters that weren’t even in the team’s rotation by the end of the year last season (one of whom didn’t even make Texas’ ALCS roster) has certainly helped, as Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando have combined to put up a — wait for it — 1.15 ERA in 39 innings.… Click here to read the rest

Beckett dominates Yankees as Boston picks up second win of season

(photo c/o of The AP)

Josh Beckett was outright destructive last night, obliterating the flailing Yankee offense in an outing almost as dominating as his Game 6 series-clinching win in the 2003 World Series (a complete-game shutout, two walks, five hits, nine strikeouts), as he threw an eight-inning two-hit, 10-strikeout shutout (the strikeout total was the most he’s ever had against the Yankees in a regular season game), as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-0 to win their first series of the season. As our own William astutely noted on Twitter last night, the Yankees were “reacting like they didn’t think Beckett threw a curve anymore.” Not only was Beckett’s curve outrageous (-2.0043 linear weights, 24 total), but he had four other fantastic pitches and mixed everything up incredibly well, throwing the four-seamer 29 times (-1.7691 linear weights), the changeup 18 times (-1.0284), cutter 18 times (-0.0220) and a nasty two seamer two-seamer (-0.5131) 13 times.

On the flip side, CC Sabathia somehow managed to survive through 5 2/3 innings only giving up one earned run despite having seemingly no command of any of his pitches.… Click here to read the rest

Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox I: Another April, another series at Fenway

A-Rod doing work at Fenway

It seems like the Yankees have to make the trek up to Fenway Park in April every season, and indeed, the Bombers have had a tilt at Fenway in April during six of the last eight years. This is rather unfortunate, as for whatever reason they have a tendency to play some of their worst baseball when forced to go to Boston during the first month of the season, having tallied a 5-14 record at the Fens in April since 2003.

As you’ll recall, the Bombers began their 2010 season up in Boston, and after losing the first game of the year I assumed they’d suffer their regularly scheduled beating; however, the Yankees made me eat my words, taking the next two games and winning a series at Fenway Park in April for the first time since 1975.

Today marks the rivals’ first meeting of the 2011 season, and it will undoubtedly be an interesting weekend.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Boston Red Sox

Jon Lester (Boston Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)

Today we arrive at the American League preview that many of you are probably the most eager for: the 2011 Boston Red Sox.

Despite a series of injuries so vast many considered the team dead in the water when the news finally broke in August that Kevin Youkilis would miss the rest of the season, the 2010 Red Sox still put up a rather valiant fight. Though they ultimately finished 3rd in the AL East, their 89-73 record was the fifth-best in the American League. The team only spent one day in first place — and that was Sunday, April 4, after beating the Yankees in the season opener — but hung tough in the most treacherous division in baseball for much of the season. After a torrid June, Boston got within 1/2 a game of first place on July 3, but a subsequent four-game losing streak put the team in too deep a hole to climb out of, and the closest they would get to first was 4.5 back after beating Tampa Bay on Friday, August 27.… Click here to read the rest

Hughes, A-Rod, D-Rob all come up huge in much-needed wild 4-3 walk-off win in 10 against BoSox

Think the Yankees were pumped up to win this one? I know I was.

In arguably the most nerve-wracking Yankee game played all season, the Yankees were able to come away with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Red Sox, staving off a rare three-game sweep at home (no one has accomplished that feat against the Yankees at the new Stadium) in a contest that featured incredible starting pitching on both sides as well as blown saves by both Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon.

The Yankees needed to win this game badly, and they couldn’t have asked for much more out of Phil Hughes, who was brilliant in throwing 6+ innings of one-run ball on three hits in what may have been his most important start in pinstripes. Unfortunately for the Yankees, somewhere along the line Daisuke Matsuzaka apparently completely reinvented himself as a pitcher, trading in the nibbler who finds himself in deep count after deep count and walking the second-most batters per nine innings for a guy who pounded the strike zone with a lively fastball and power sinker and who hardly even got to three balls on any hitter.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Red Sox V: If the longstanding rivals play three games and no one cares do they make a sound?

With the Yankees’ postseason ticket all but punched and the Red Sox missing the postseason for the first time since 2006 all but official, this weekend’s Yankees-Red Sox set represents the first time since the end of the 2008 season that a series between the two teams will be met with mostly yawns given the complete lack of playoff implications (well, aside from some divisional and HFA machinations, but neither of those are worth getting too worked up about in my book).

Sure, there are some interesting aspects to keep an eye on, most notably Andy Pettitte‘s continued progress back into rotation stalwart, but the unfortunate tale of the 2010 Red Sox and their devastating losses of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis have relegated this Yankees-Sox series to second-class status. Not that we won’t still be watching intently, but for once it’ll be nice to not have to live and die with every pitch these two teams throw.

In tonight’s game Andy Pettitte (2.81 ERA; 3.90 FIP; 4.05 xFIP) makes his second start since coming back from the DL against a disappointing Josh Beckett (5.71 ERA; 4.17 FIP; 3.98 xFIP).… Click here to read the rest