Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sox-Yankees Series Preview

This is looking like the biggest series of the season so far (for all of baseball) so undoubtedly there is going to be a lot of hype. Note the fact this is a 4-game series and two of the games will be nationally televised (Saturday afternoon at 4 on Fox and Sunday night on ESPN).

The prologue to this series: Yankees have their typical team of mercenaries and had their typical lousy start. The team has gelled and has played winning baseball for much of June and July. Even when they are losing late in games, the opponent usually drops an infield fly or something and the Yankees win. Bottom line, right now the Yankees have the best lineup in baseball a more than adequate rotation, a mediocre bullpen and a solid bench. The Red Sox meanwhile appear to be limping into this series with half a rotation, a struggling lineup and a bunch of injuries. The Sox looked like the best in baseball, hands down, mid-June. Now there are serious concerns.

The big question is - will the usual storyline continue? The one in which the Sox start off hot but ultimately finish behind NY either in the standings or the postseason? To add insult to injury, as everyone knows, the Yanks are 0-8 against Boston so far this season, so the expected turnaround could be that much more dramatic (and satisfying to Yankees fans).

Thursday: Chamberlain vs. Smoltz - Joba will want to be a tone-setter for this series and I am not so sure he will go after anyone in the early innings (after that, who knows?) but he has been a horse despite not appearing to have an overpowering FB this season. Expect a strong start from Joba tonight and a lot of over-celebrating when he gets the 3rd out with men on in the 2nd inning. Also, expect Smoltz to give it up big time and not last more than 3.

Friday: Burnett vs. Beckett - Sox got a chance to win but after getting shellacked on Thursday, the pressure will be even higher. It's possible Beckett bucks up and dominates but just as likely Robinson Cano hits 3 HR's and Melky Cabrera hits for the cycle.

Saturday: Sabathia vs. Buchholz - potentially as lopsided as Thursday's contest but this the kind of game the Sox may steal a sneaky win. Great big test for Buchholz who people (like my buddy Jon) are now saying should have gone in Masterson's place in the Victor Martinez deal. By no means do the Sox have CC's number but they have hung with him in the past. X-factor: this could be the game when the Yankees win on a cheap error and send the Bronx partisans home happy on a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday: Pettite vs. Lester - the obligatory Sunday night game; expect this one to last 5 hours. The Sox best chance to win given Lester's success against the Bombers these past 2 seasons. Pettite's a gamer but the Sox have hit him this season.

So this series has all the makings of the typical mid-summer series that looks like it totally buries the Red Sox. You see, these past few years have featured the Yankees completly clobbering the Red Sox in one mid/late summer series after another. And if it sounds like I am complaining about a curse or something like that, you can look it up. The thing is, these past 5 years, the Sox have ended up with a whole lot more success than the Yankees overall - so, bottom line, the Sox could lose 3 or even 4 and still bounceback in time for the postseason.

As long as the DRays fall off the map.

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