Series Preview: Yankees at Red Sox (7/25-7/28)
For the first time all season, the Yankees are headed to Fenway Park. This weekend’s four-game series presents an opportunity for the Yankees to put the final nail in the American League East coffin of their long-time rival. Entering play on Thursday 12 games up on the Red Sox in the division, a series win, or possibly even a split, would make it next to impossible for the Red Sox to make a run at the AL East over the season’s final two months. New York comes into the series at 66-35, which is the best record in Major League Baseball.
Game One: Thursday, July 25 at 7:10pm (YES, MLBN)
Masahiro Tanaka (7-5, 4.00 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (8-7, 5.61 ERA)
The Yankees will send their de facto ace to the mound in game one with Masahiro Tanaka getting the ball. The 30-year-old right-hander has faced Boston just one time this season, coming back on June 29 in London. In that game, Tanaka surrendered six runs on four hits in just 0.2 innings. It also started a trend that has seen the sixth-year Yankees allow 17 runs in his last 19 innings (8.05 ERA). Tanaka has to be much better than he’s been lately for the Yanks to continue their consistent winning ways.
On the opposite side, Tanaka is facing the same pitcher that he did in that 17-13 London Series slugfest that the Yankees won. Rick Porcello, who gave up six runs on five hits in 0.1 innings in that game, gets the ball for the Red Sox. Porcello also faced the Bronx Bombers at Yankee Stadium on June 1 and got rocked to the tune of five runs and nine hits over 4.2 innings. Coming into this start ice cold, the former AL Cy Young winner owns an 11.65 ERA in his last four starts (17 innings).
Game Two: Friday, July 26 at 7:10pm (WPIX, MLBN)
James Paxton (5-5, 4.20 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-5, 4.19 ERA)
James Paxton gets the nod in game two looking for some consistency. The lanky lefty has been mostly good in July, pitching to a 3.80 ERA in 21.1 innings. However, “Big Maple” surrendered seven runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings to the Colorado Rockies last time out on Sunday. It seems like for every two or three good starts Paxton puts together, he has another one that leaves much to be desired. On the season, Paxton has yet to face the Red Sox, but he owns a 1.89 ERA in 33.1 career innings against the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, Boston is sending one of the newest members of their team to the mound in the second game of the series. Andrew Cashner, who was acquired in a trade from Baltimore on July 13, gets his first taste of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. In two starts with the Sox so far, Cashner has given up nine runs over 11 innings (7.36 ERA) to the Blue Jays and Orioles. In three games against New York this season, all with Baltimore, Cashner has permitted 11 runs to score in 16 frames (6.19 ERA).
Game Three: Saturday, July 27 at 4:05pm (YES, FS1)
CC Sabathia (5-5, 4.50 ERA) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (12-4, 4.10 ERA)
Possibly pitching for the final time ever at Fenway Park, CC Sabthia is on the bump for the only afternoon game of the series. The big Southpaw has pitched against the Red Sox once this season, allowing three runs in six innings on June 2 at Yankee Stadium. Last time out, the big lefty got rocked in Minnesota. Sabathia gave up six runs over just four runs on July 22. As the season has waned on, the 38-year-old Sabthia has clearly shown signs of aging, but he’s still capable of giving a quality five or six innings at his best.
In game three, Boston will send out the man who has been their best starting pitcher this season: Eduardo Rodriguez. The 26-year-old left-hander has been red hot lately, allowing just four runs 26.1 July innings (1.38 ERA). Since June 14, Boston is 7-1 in games in which the left-hander has appeared. The lone loss came back on June 30 to the Yankees in London, but it wasn’t Rodriguez’s fault. The young Venezuelan allowed two runs over 5.1 innings in that band-box, before the bullpen imploded.
Game Four: Sunday, July 28 at 7:05pm (ESPN)
Domingo German (12-2, 4.03 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (5-9, 4.00 ERA)
On Sunday Night Baseball, Domingo German wraps up the weekend series for the Yanks. German has made only one start against the BoSox this season, and it was one of his worst games of the year. The 26-year-old gave up three runs on six hits in a mere 3.2 innings. German also posted his worst start of the year earlier this week in giving up eight runs to the Twins in a wild, offense-filled series. He’ll look to bounce back in primetime for the Yanks against their biggest rivals.
Boston closes out the set with the ace of their staff. Chris Sale will take the ball on Sunday night coming off two very strong starts. The lanky lefty has allowed just two runs over his last 12 innings against the Blue Jays and Rays. After a very uncharacteristic start to the season, Sale has settled in lately. The 29-year-old has pitched against the Yanks twice this season, allowing four runs each time out, once going six innings and the other time five frames.
Obviously, any time the Yankees and Red Sox get together, it’s a big deal. However, with Boston so far behind their rivals in the standings, this series is much more important to the home team than the visitors this weekend. The Yanks will be happy to come away with a split, but as previously mentioned, a series win would just about kill any chances the Red Sox have in the division and New York is certainly aware of that. Based on starting pitching matchups, the Bombers should have a chance in every game, but you just never known at Fenway.
Preview by: Jake GrazianoFollow@JakeGraziano