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Bullpen Day Thrives, Yanks top Rays 4-1

Entering the last week of the regular season the Yankees opened a four-game set Monday night in the always dreaded trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees came into tonight sitting one and a half games (two in the loss column) above the Oakland A’s for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game. Aaron Boone decided to go with a “bullpen day” tonight instead of giving the ball to a typical starter.

Series Preview: New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox (5/8-5/10)

The Yankees are coming off a torrid pace winning the past 15 of their 16 games, and now face off against the rival Boston Red Sox in the Bronx after a much needed off day. There was plenty of fireworks in their previous meeting in Fenway, as the Yankees series loss was punctuated by an instant classic bench clearing brawl between Tyler Austin and Joe Kelly. It was less than a month ago that many fans thought the Bombers were in big trouble, as they were trailing Boston in the division by seven games. However, that is just a distant memory as the Yanks look to make a statement by pummeling the Red Sox to secure the division lead. 

(Getty/AP)



Game 1: Tuesday, May 8th 7:05 pm
Luis Severino RHP (5-1 2.11 ERA) vs Drew Pomeranz LHP (1-1 6.14 ERA)
TV: YES Network

(Bob Levey Getty Images)

The Yankees trot out their young ace to start off the series, hoping he can replicate his last start in Houston. The 24-year old was locked in throughout his start, going nine innings of shutout ball against the defending world champions for his first career complete game. Severino struck out ten while only giving up five hits against the Astros. The last time Sevy faced the Boston lineup, he suffered his only loss of the season in his shortest outing, giving up five runs in only five innings. The righty hopes to bounce back and give the Yankees are fighting chance in the opening game of the series.

Pomeranz has only appeared in three games this year due to a mild flexor injury he suffered in spring training. The lefty is averaging less than five innings per start but looks to continue his decent form against the Yankees, owning a 3-1 record and a 3.65 ERA in eight starts against the Bombers in the past three years. Right now, Pomeranz doesn't seem to have his best stuff back yet, and the Yanks should make him pay for any mistake he makes.

Game 2: Wednesday, May 9th 7:05 pm
Masahiro Tanaka RHP (4-2 4.39 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello RHP (5-0 2.14 ERA)
TV: YES/ESPN

(Getty Images)

Tanaka takes the mound hoping to continue his recent form, sporting a 2.41 ERA and 2-0 record in his last three appearances. The righty’s last start was a bit peculiar, dominating the potent Astros lineup for six innings, then quickly becoming unglued in the seventh inning, saddling him with a no-decision instead of the win. Despite that seventh inning, which partly was aided by a phantom hit-by-pitch and Chad Green allowing four runs, Tanaka has looked stellar in recent weeks and should do the same in the comfy confines of the Bronx.

In a late change Tuesday night, scheduled starter David Price will not pitch on Wednesday but instead will return to Boston for tests on the numbness in his fingers. In his place, righty Rick Porcello will start. Porcello is having a great start to the season as well, and stymied the Yankees in Fenway in April, allowing only two hits in seven innings, and had no hits through six. Porcello seems to carve up the Yanks with a bevy of slippery breaking balls, so if the Bombers want to flip the script and win this game, they’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on the righty.


Game 3: Thursday, May 10th 7:05 pm
CC Sabathia LHP (2-0 1.39 ERA) vs Eduardo Rodriguez LHP (3-0 5.29 ERA)
TV: WPIX

(NY Daily News)

Every day CC pitches, the Yankees front office looks that much smarter, as the lefty has been nearly unhittable this season. The veteran starter is allowing the lowest average exit velocity this year, showing just how much command his has over his pitches. CC hasn’t faced the Red Sox this year but has owned them in the past three years with a 2.37 ERA and 6-1 record in ten starts against Boston.

Rodriguez replaces Porcello for Thursday's game, and he will be on normal rest. Rodriguez may be undefeated in 2018, but don't let that fool you, the lefty has let up five, five, and three runs in each of his last three starts with four home runs. Rodriguez struggles after his first time through the order, opponents batting averages jump from .188 to .245, which should bode well for the extremely deep Yankee lineup. The Boston starter has not faced the Bombers this year but has decent numbers against the Yanks in the past, sporting a 2.96 ERA with a 4-2 record in nine starts. However, this is a completely different lineup than years past and needs to take advantage of the Red Sox number five starter if they want to win this series.



Yankee Players to Watch

(USA Today)

Tyler Austin, First baseman
Austin isn’t here just because of the brawl he sparked in Fenway but has had a breakout start to the year as well. Austin has played exceptionally well against the Red Sox in his young career, slashing .409/.500/1.273 with two homers and seven RBI in 26 plate appearances. The first baseman also is a great lefty killer, which will bode well against the southpaws he will face in this series. Also, tensions will be high for Austin, as some retaliation may come from either side.

(Maddie Meyer Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton, Outfielder
It has been a pretty disappointing start for his Yankee career, but Stanton has been better in recent weeks, and a good series against Boston will undoubtedly quiet the Bronx boo birds. Stanton did well in his first taste of the rivalry batting .583 with three RBI in three games in Fenway, a far cry from the .196 average he came into that series sporting. Stanton is a hitter who capitalizes on pitchers mistakes better than almost anyone, even during his current struggles. He could do better to improve his consistency, but he should match up well against the Red Sox pitchers this week, as he hopes to break out from his early-season woes.

(NYP)

Gleyber Torres, Second Baseman
The Baby Bomber movement 2.0 is in full effect, and it's almost as good if not better than the previous edition. Torres and Miguel Andujar have shown incredible pose and production so early in their MLB careers, and both hope to continue that against the Red Sox. This week will be Torres’ first series against Boston and can become a quick fan favorite (not that he isn’t close to that already) if he punishes these Boston pitchers. Torres has already shown a knack for coming up clutch in high leverage situations, most notably his walk-off home run in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Indians, and there is no higher tension than Yankees-Red Sox. It will be interesting to see how the second baseman fairs this week.

Boston Players to watch

(Jen McCaffrey Masslive.com)

Mookie Betts, Outfielder
Mookie is having an MVP caliber start to the season, despite missing a few games at the end of April with an injury. The right fielder practically owns the multi-homerun games this season, and if the Yankees want to win this series, stopping the Boston leadoff hitter will be crucial. Betts killed the Yanks in their first meeting this year, driving in 7 RBIs while batting .385. Hopefully, the better weather will help the New York pitchers corral the Boston slugger. Betts did suffer a shoulder contusion in Sunday's game against the Rangers, but will start in right field and batting leadoff to start the series, it will be something to watch moving forward.

(Boston Globe)


JD Martinez, Outfield/DH
The prized jewel of Boston’s offseason, Martinez had a similarly slow start to the season as Stanton but has notably heated up, currently slashing .342/.388/.986 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. Martinez was another pain against the Yankees, driving in six RBIs, but only batted .231 in the series. Again, hopefully, this time around, the Bombers pitchers will be ready to carve up another Red Sox slugger.

(Boston Herald)

Xander Bogaerts, SS
Another Red Sox player with a hot start to the season, Bogaerts was batting .368/.400/1.111 before fracturing a bone in his foot sliding into the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays on April eighth at Fenway, sidelining the shortstop for about three weeks. During his absence, he missed the memorable series against the Bombers, so it is uncertain how he will do against the Yankees pitching staff.

Conclusion:

As mentioned before, this is a crucial series for the division lead for both teams. Although it is only May, and there is plenty of baseballs left, you can set the tone early with statement series such as this. You could argue the Yankees and Red Sox are the number one and two best teams in baseball at the moment so every inch gained will be incredibly significant in this long season. The Yankees are on a scorching pace right now, while the Red Sox are trying to regain their early-season mojo, pair that with the bad blood between the clubs, makes this three-game series much watch baseball.

Article by: Maxx Hotton

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