The Sox have owned the Yankees in the first two series the teams have played this season, compiling a 5-1 record in the 2011 version of this most heated rivalry in sports. Both teams come into tonight's series-opener in the Bronx playing well, with the Sox having swept the A's and the Yankees returning from a 6-3 west coast swing which included their own sweep of the A's, and during which they faced as tough a string of starting pitchers as they are likely to face all season.
The offenses for both teams have begun to click up and down the line-ups with a few notable exceptions (J.D. Drew and Nick Swisher are among the 5 worst RF's in baseball on a wide variety of offensive metrics, though Swisher has started to hit with power again lately; and only 3 players have as many PAs with as bad a BA as Jorge – woo-hoo!).
As for the pitching, Lester's last few outings have not matched his superlative early starts and Wakefield – who can be either a disaster or confoundingly effective – will start game two for the Sox. Tonight the Yankees send out their own confounding old man – Freddy Garcia – to face Lester and AJ Burnett will compete with Wakefield for most wild pitches and passed balls tomorrow night.
As for the finale on Thursday, it's a beaut: Josh Beckett, who is having a sensational year, will face CC Sabathia, who is in the best stretch of his season, having thrown 25 innings in his last 3 starts combined, giving up a total of 5 ERs.
For tonight: which Lester will show up, and will Freddy drive the Sox crazy or will they pound his funky-stuff into oblivion?
For tomorrow: what's the over/under on wild pitches + passed balls? (I say 5)
For Thursday: who drinks whose milkshake in the finale (my money is certainly on CC there)?
Use this for the pre-series analysis, chest-thumping, and hair-pulling. I'll be at the game tonight and try to send some color commentary periodically once the gamethread's up.