Yankees at Red Sox Series Preview

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Since this is probably one of the biggest rivalry in sports, and the teams are back at first and second place in the standings, separated by 1 game, we are dedicating a post to previewing the series.

Yankees (34-23) at Red Sox (33-24)
Red Sox lead series 5-0.
Pitching Matchups:
Today: A.J. Burnett (4-2, 4.69) vs Josh Beckett (6-2, 4.09)

Wednesday: Chein-Ming Wang (0-3, 14.46) vs Tim Wakefield (7-3, 4.50)

Thursday: CC Sabathia (5-3, 3.56) vs Brad Penny (5-2, 5.85)

Key Position Player for the Yankees: Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod will be playing in his first Yankees-Red Sox game this season. The Yankees are 0-5 against the Red Sox this year without A-Rod. The Boston pitching has yet to face this renewed Yankee lineup with A-Rod in it. With A-Rod in the lineup, his presence gives the Yankees a more powerful, potent lineup, something they lacked last time they faced Boston. He has also protected Mark Teixeira and helped make him the most dangerous hitter in the AL the last 4-5 weeks. The Red Sox pitching will have a more challenging lineup to face than the previous 5 games, with the presence of Alex Rodriguez.

Key Position Player for the Red Sox: Jason Bay. Bay has replaced Mannny Ramirez quite nicely as the new Yankee-killer. This season he is 10-18, with 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, 4 BB, 2 doubles, and a .667 OBP. If he continues to put up the numbers he has against New York, it will be a long day for Yankee pitchers.

Who Needs to Step Their Game Up: Yankees: Their bullpen. With the patience the Red Sox lineup has, they will do everything they can to get to the Yankees bullpen. They have Rivera's number, and Phil Coke and Jose Veras are not very reliable. Alfredo Aceves and the possible use of Phil Hughes in the bullpen could help the pen. However, Hughes is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA vs Boston and Aceves, has a 6.48 ERA in 8.1 IP against Boston. The bullpen will probably make or break the series for the Yankees.

For Boston: David Ortiz. "Big Papi" has become "Big Pop-Up" this season. He only has 2 HRs and has presented a huge gap in the Red Sox lineup after being such a dominant hitter, especially against the Yankees. With Ortiz struggling, it makes the Red Sox lineup less powerful, and he could cost the Sox if he comes up to bat late in the game. If Ortiz does turn his season around, it could make the Red Sox the best team in the majors.

Key to Winning the Series: For the Yankees: Starting pitching. A.J. Burnett needs to pitch better than his previous outing against the Red Sox. Chien-Ming Wang needs to pitch like the 19-game winner he twice was, and CC Sabathia needs to continue pitching like an ace. All three must try and pitch deep into ballgames, going 7-8 innings to save the bullpen. If the pitching can do that, the Yankees should win the series.

For the Red Sox: Get to the Yankees bullpen. Everybody in baseball knows the Yankees bullpen is their weakest spot. If the Red Sox hitters can hold Yankee pitchers to go 5-6 innings and get them out of the game early, they'll be able to tee off the Yankee relievers.

Prediction: Yankees take the series 2-1. Burnett will come out tonight and make a huge statement and help defeat the Red Sox. Yankees usually hit Beckett well too, and did in his last start vs the Yankees. The Yankees also have a mismatch with Sabathia vs Penny and should win that one easily. The toss-up game will be Wang vs Wakefield, and it depends which lineup can get to the starter first. That game could be a slugfest, and I'll give the Red Sox the advantage there because they are playing home, and Wang does not pitch well at Fenway, whereas Wakefield has some success against the Yankees.


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