After losing Game 1 of the four-game series against the last-place-in-their-division Texas Rangers, the Red Sox woke up long enough to win the following three to maintain their tenuous hold on the division. They’re 14-5 on the road, 25-9 overall, still the best record in baseball.
But the wolf is at the door, or rather, to mix metaphors, the Red Sox are heading straight into the lion’s den. With a 1-game lead over their pinstriped rivals, they head to the Bronx to face them for the first time since the April series, when Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin got into a bench-and-bullpen-clearing brawl that resulted in numerous ejections and suspensions.
It kills me to say, but the Yankees have been hot, going 18-3 since the series in Boston. Their rookie pitched 6 no-hit innings today, and they came back from a 4-0 deficit to beat Cleveland. They’re not going to be easy to beat for a Red Sox team that hasn’t even been good at beating bad teams.
It’s not exactly an ideal time for the Sox to face the Yanks, as David Price has resumed pitching like nothing short of a disaster, Drew Pomeranz is not even close to being the pitcher he was last year, Jackie Bradley Jr. can’t seem to hit anything, and Mookie Betts exited today’s game after being hit by a ball. The team says it’s been diagnosed as a contusion, but Mookie might need more than one day’s rest before returning to the lineup. Considering he had his second 3-homer game of the season earlier this week, the Red Sox will probably need him to compete with Judge, Stanton, Sanchez, and the rest of the pinstriped pack. Chris Sale pitched a magnificent 7 innings today, so he won’t even face the Yankees.
With the lead dwindled down to one game, it’s a stressful situation. But it’s also exciting as hell to see the two hottest teams – who also happen to have hated each other since the beginning of time – face each other. The rivalry may never return to 2004 status, but we’re definitely deep in it. Whether or not we see more literal punches thrown in this series, it’s safe to say it’ll be a fight to the finish.
Photo: New York Times