Over the past decade, mid-season Yanks-Sox match-ups have often carried with them the aura of sparring matches between two heavyweight champs who know that, whatever happens, they’ll be seeing each other again – in September, maybe even October – when it really counts, and the gloves will come off. Being perenially # 1 and # 2 in a division that has sent two teams to the playoffs 9 out of the 13 years that the wildcard has made that possible has undoubtedly lessened the urgency of scrapping to be # 1.
Well when you’re reduced to scrapping for the # 2 spot, the gloves are already off. This holiday weekend’s 4-game set feels more like a do-or-die grudge match between two hungry and wounded predators then it does a dress rehearsal for an inevitable late-season showdown.
The Yankees are coming off a rough 5-7 stretch that they hope to have put behind them with last night’s slugfest against the Rangers. The Sox are coming off an even rougher 4-8 stretch punctuated by being swept for the second straight time this season at the Trop.
Facing off tonight in the Bronx for the second-to-last season series they will ever play there (wipes tear from eye) a lot is on the line for both. The Sox are suddenly 3.5 out of first and need to get their heads’ right after losing 5 straight. They send southpaw Jon Lester to the mound in his first Yankee Stadium appearance to lead the way. Lester faced the Yanks only once before – getting pounded for 7 runs in 3.2 IP back in 2006, but he is undoubtedly a better pitcher now and facing a heavily lefty Yankee lineup.
The Yankees need to get off on the good foot – they are a full 8 games in the loss column out of first and their performance in these 4 with Boston and the next 2 against Tampa Bay could land them in a much better – or much worse – place come the rapidly approaching all-star break. Taking the mound to try to set the tone for the Yankees: Andy Pettitte, who is 15-6 in 29 career match-ups with the Sox.
Let the fireworks begin…and comment away!