The Boston Red Sox could use a little love from Fenway Park.
They haven’t seen their home since August 4th as they’ve been occupied with a 10-game road trip that featured the Royals, Astros, and Blue Jays. A road trip filled with mediocre baseball, lackluster defense, and way too many runners left on base (33 in the Blue Jays series). A road trip that I’m glad has come to an end.
With a two-game lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay, the Sox will welcome the Bronx Bombers into Fenway for a weekend series. Now many of you may be thinking “Why is he even discussing the Yankees?” Well I will tell you why. The Sox play the Yankees ten more times before the season’s end (six at home, four on the road), and at nine games behind Boston, they are becoming a team with nothing to lose. A team like that can become very pesky, and dangerous for a club trying to make the postseason (remember Baltimore 2011), and with a west coast trip looming after the series, these three games hold a lot more value than normal.
So here is a preview of what to expect over the weekend.
Friday: Andy Pettitte (7-9) vs. Felix Doubront (8-5)
Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda (11-7) vs. John Lackey (7-10)
Sunday: CC Sabathia (10-10) vs. Ryan Dempster (6-8)
The last time the Yankees were in town, they were a land of misfit toys. Their entire lineup was the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen from New York in a long time. No pop, no power, just a bunch of guys they gathered in the parking lot 15 minutes before the game. Not really their fault, but I don’t care, I took advantage of kicking the Yankees while they were down because I absolutely despise them.
However, this time around is a different story.
The acquisition of Alfonso Soriano, and the return of Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, has given them some names back that Sox’ fans are more accustomed to seeing. Their offense has been rolling of late (29 runs in their last three games), but I wouldn’t look too far into that due to the fact that it all came against the Angels, who are the proud owners of the 2nd-highest team ERA in baseball. Still, there’s no denying the fact that they will be better offensively.
They will bring two lefties to the mound in the series: Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. Lately, anytime the Red Sox encounter lefties, they basically get shut down, but these two don’t worry me. Pettitte is 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA in two starts against Boston this season, but has struggled in August so far, posting a 10.29 ERA.
Two left-handers in the Sox lineup have enjoyed a lot of success against Pettitte in their careers, and they are David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ortiz is hitting .373 in 59 at-bats, and Ellsbury at .370 in 27 at-bats. You have to figure the righties won’t have much of an issue considering right handers are hitting .329 against Pettitte this year, compared to just .203 for lefties, so having a couple lefties who see the ball well out of Pettitte’s hand is huge.
Carsten Charles Sabathia just hasn’t had his usual Captain Crunch mojo this year. He’s got an ERA above four, and a HR/9 ratio of 1.4. Even worse, he’s got a 6.23 ERA against Boston this year in three starts and doesn’t pitch well on the road. I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, I don’t think Yankee fans do either, but considering he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in the game, you start to see some red flags.
Hiroki Kuroda does worry me though. He’s having a Cy Young caliber season and has dominated just about every team he’s faced, including the Red Sox. For a guy who hates baseball, he’s pretty damn good at it. He’s got the 8th-best WHIP in the league at 1.02, and a WAR of 5.1. His contributions to New York this year have almost single-handedly kept them in shouting distance of the Wild Card race, so don’t expect his start Saturday to be anything different than what he’s been accomplishing all season.
Even with the Red Sox coming up short on the road, a packed house at Fenway Park should rejuvenate them to perform like the 1st place team they are. Safe to say, I’m excited for the series.
Tom Seaver said it best, “Fenway Park is the essence of baseball.”