Is this a meaningless series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox? Nonsense! It certainly isn’t insignificant for the Yankees as they hold onto a slim one-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles with 22 games left on the schedule. No one expected this series to be one in which the Yankees could gain steam in the American League East race, but that is exactly what they need to do over the next three days in Boston.
The Yankees (79-61) need to beat teams that they are superior to and right now THIS Red Sox team is a shell of its former self. The Bombers are in a position to play a softer schedule than the Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays as the season begins to wind down. The Yanks cannot go into Fenway Park for this three-game series and fall flat. The Yankees had the benefit of an off day to recuperate mentally from the four-game series in Baltimore and the three games which preceded it in Tampa. The Yankees will not tell you this but they’ve got to be thinking sweep. They should be anyway. The Yankees need to build some confidence, not to mention a winning streak and there is no time like the present.
While the Yankees get the last-place Red Sox (63-78) for three games, the Orioles and Rays are set to engage in another strenuous series. There isn’t a better time to make some headway in the division than when the two teams chasing them are set to swap wins. I would not imagine either team sweeping the other in the series at Camden Yards, which opens the door for the Yankees to gain precious ground in the chase for the AL East title.
The Yankees showed plenty of heart in the series against the Orioles. In their losses in Baltimore the Yanks took leads, unfortunately gave some back, but then clawed their way back into games giving them a chance to win in the late innings. In their wins on Friday and Sunday, they scored 8 and 13 runs respectively showing their offense may well be coming along. If indeed the lineup has turned the corner, then they should mash at Fenway.
That turns the attention to the rotation which has been up and down for a better part of the season. Again, this would be the time for the starting staff to get into a groove. The Red Sox are not exactly fielding the potent lineups the Yankees have seen in years past. While the Red Sox have personal pride at stake, that only goes so far.
In no way do I expect the Red Sox to sit back and let the Yankees take charge, but I fully anticipate the Yankees coming out revved up and ready to take advantage of the now kind schedule. After losing a ten-game lead, they have plenty to prove. They showed determination and even desperation with gritty performances in Baltimore and now they must display the ability to put away inferior teams. The Yankees have sixteen games left against clubs with losing records. The schedule makers didn’t expect the Red Sox to be among them when September rolled along, but it plays nicely into the Yankees’ hands.
Individually, the Bombers have been saying all the right things about the Red Sox being a tough opponent. The Yanks should absolutely respect the Red Sox and actually any other team despite their record because these are professional players. But, respecting one’s opponent does not mean they shouldn’t want to demonstrate dominance over them on the field. The Yankees have to get their swagger back and who better to do it against than the Boston Red Sox?