The Yankees close out the first half of their season with a weekend series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. If the name of the game is all about positioning, then the Yankees currently find themselves holding the keys to any hopes the Red Sox may have to get back into the playoff chase. However, if the name of the game is all about survival, then the Red Sox know this series could make or break their outlook on the remainder of their season. It makes for another epic showdown between these two teams where the stakes are high.
Seven and a half games in front of a team sounds like a pretty good lead to work with, however, a four-game series can change that outlook very quickly. If the Yankees can win this series, at least for awhile, it puts Boston far enough back in the standings to keep them out of the mix. Instead of thinking about trying to win the division, the Red Sox could be left with only aspirations of a wild-card spot at best.
Credit should be given when due and the Red Sox have managed to maintain a pulse while in an ultra-competitive division this year. Their team has endured key injuries, a new manager with a style that’s night and day compared to his predecessor, and inconsistency that has all contributed to why Boston is near the bottom of the American League East. Losing Dustin Pedroia to injury doesn’t help matters either.
On the flip side, Boston knows help is on the way with the return of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. If the Red Sox can take 3 out of 4 from the Yankees this weekend, it puts them right on the starting blocks for the second half. If the Yankees want to prevent that from happening, the time is now for them to make sure Boston goes down and stays down for the count.
Hiroki Kuroda has been pitching well of late and the Yankees will need him to set the tone for the series with another solid outing this evening.
This is indeed the dog days of summer and this is the type of series that can provide some spice and much needed juice. The Yankees are the hunted right now instead of the hunter and that means they’ll have to start picking off their division foes one by one to keep their first-place standing. It starts tonight at Fenway Park.