It’s finally here. Today begins the newest chapter in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees rivalry. The season’s 19-game series kicks off tonight in the Bronx when Michael Pineda takes the mound at 7:05.
The Yankees suffered their worst season series record in nearly 30 years against the Red Sox last season. The Sox punished the Yanks winning 13 of the 19 games played against their long-time foes. More dreadful was the fact that the Yankees were a dismal 3-7 at the Stadium against the eventual AL East champs. This put the Bombers in a hole that would see them finish twelve games behind their nemesis and miss the playoffs. While the Yankees were home for the 2013 playoffs, the Red Sox were rallying for their third World Series title in the last decade.
The 2014 version of “The Rivalry” is barely recognizable from last season. The reigning champs have an abundance of youth starting for them this season as they lost their catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and their short stop Stephen Drew in the off-season. They also lost their lead-off hitter and star center fielder. One man’s loss is another man’s gain as they say.
Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the big acquisitions the Yankees made in their winter spending spree along with the likes of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. Girardi told reporters that he is excited that Ellsbury is now in pinstripes and he doesn’t have to deal with the speedster on the opposing side. Ellsbury seemed to give the Yankees endless trouble both at the plate and then on the bases last season. Is Ellsbury pumped for the big game?
“The fans get into it, the media gets into it, the players get into it, so it’s exciting for all parties. But you’ve got to get up for each and every game,’’ said Ellsbury. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I try not to get on an emotional roller coaster each game, but yeah I’m looking forward to it. Obviously I gave that organization everything I had for, gee, from ’05 to 2013, a good amount of time. A good portion of my life I spent in that organization. I gave them everything I had, left it all on the field, and we’ll be playing them.’’
Other Yankees are excited to get the rivalry fueled up again as well. “It’s always going to be a good rivalry. The fans enjoy it, and it’s going to be a pretty good weekend,’’ explained Brett Gardner. “They won the World Series last year, they were the best team in baseball. It’s a new year. Hopefully we can prove we can do that this year.’’
As a die hard Yankee fan who has been to his fair share of Red Sox/ Yankees bouts, I hope Garnder is right. It all starts this weekend and the Yankees have to get off on the right foot. Despite the recent pitching struggles, the bats seem to be coming alive. Anything less than a split would be a frightening harbinger for the rest of the season. Just ask C.C. Sabathia:
“We know we’ve got to go through them to try and win this division. That’s our ultimate goal, to try and win the division and get into the playoffs. We did as best we could last year with what we had. We had a lot of injuries, and dealt with a lot of adversity, but it’s a new year, and we’re looking to try to take the American League East back.”