The Red Sox/Yankees rivalry has always been a heated one dating back to the early 20th century. The Evil Empire against the Underdogs, the most storied franchise in history vs. the saddest. 27 rings up against 86 years. This weekend is no different.
The uniforms remain unchanged, the lattice of Yankee Stadium still present, the green on the Monster still fresh, and the game being played has been untouched for over a century. All of these constants swirling around the same two teams for decades, but something seems different. There’s fire behind these teams, a hatred between them, a genuine desire to drive the other into the ground. There is tension in the air. A tension that lives in silence and gets more electric with each passing second.
The Red Sox and Yankees have always hated each other. That’s been true for centuries, but no other rivalry has spanned so many decades and seeped so far into our fandom as baseball fans.
Bucky Dent, Roger Clemens, Aaron Boone, Grady Little, Don Zimmer, Pedro Martinez and his Daddy, A-Rod, Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon, Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, and Babe Ruth, the list goes on and on of players whose names will always be intertwined with the greatest sports rivalry of all time.
What makes this rivalry great was the David versus Goliath qualities both teams seemed to exude. New York might not seem like a David-type character in this story, but when you consider the disrepair the franchise came from in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Yankees were fighting against their past demons, trying to reclaim the glory days of the past.
Not only were they fighting the ghosts of Mantle, Ruth, DiMaggio, and Gehrig, they were battling the entire league. Everyone wanted to be the team to knock the Yankees down a peg. It’s lonely at the top and everyone wants a shot at the champ.
Call me crazy, but I’m one of the few Sox fans who can understand that without the New York Yankees, modern baseball simply doesn’t exist. Without the Yankees, there’s no baseball, no Red Sox, no nothing. What a miserable existence it would be.
However, out of their 27 rings, the modern-day Yankees have only won 5 in the last 22 years.
The Red Sox have won 3 rings in the last 15 years.
The Boston Red Sox were the perennial David to the Yankees Goliath for the greater part of the last century. It begins with a trade, that leads to a curse, that leads to the absence of a championship for 86 years. In that 86 year span, the Red Sox watched New York claim the World Series 26 times.
If your mortal enemy succeeds 26 times in front of your face, stepping on you to get to the top, you can’t take that lightly. You most certainly cannot take it for 86 years. Something has to give eventually.
The Sox/Yankees rivalry has seemingly laid dormant, with a resurgence in the last two seasons. Sure there have been bits here and there, where games had meaning, and they flirted with a race to the top of the AL East. But the two teams haven’t had an arms race like they have in the last few years.
Armed with star-studded lineups, full of young talent, seasoned veterans and mammoth contracts, the Bronx Bombers and the Boston Boys of Summer lock horns at Yankee Stadium for the first time since early May. The 52-26 Yankees with their super sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez and the 55-27 Red Sox sending their Ace Chris Sale and contractual Ace David Price to the mound for Games 2 and 3.
This is the most important series so far this season for both teams.
Prior to the first pitch of the series the Red Sox had a .5 game lead on the Yankees, who have played 4 fewer games in 2018. Accounting for their postponed games is what gives the Yankees their extremely close proximity to the Sox despite having fewer wins.
This 4 game disparity could play into the Yankees favor later on in the season. If the Yankees can pull far enough ahead of the Red Sox, then those four games won’t matter. However, if the Yankees can’t get distance from the Sox then forcing makeup games into an already busy schedule is going to flatten their energy leading up to the playoffs. It’s in the Bronx Bombers best interest to pull ahead sooner rather than later.
They wasted no time, winning Game 1 by a score of 8-1. Talk about coming out guns blazing.
The series takes a hard turn in Boston’s favor with Chris Sale on the hill. Sale’s been his normal self in 2018, turning in an MLB leading 12.6 K/9. The issue for Sale has been early inning runs and a lack of support from the Beantown offense.
The Red Sox lead the league in Run Support for their starters, averaging 5.2 runs a start. Sale isn’t so lucky. Despite going deep into games and racking up double-digit strikeouts, Sale averages 3.99 runs of support from the powerhouse Sox offense. If this trend continues, Sale’s dominance isn’t going to get them through their tough second half.
For the Yankees, the gameplan is simple: stifle the Red Sox bats and keep sending baseballs into orbit. It’s that simple.
The Yankees have to do one thing this year: win the AL East. There’s no wild-card race, no close calls late into September, none of that. The Yankees need to win the AL East outright, and if there’s one thing that will stop them from doing that, it’s their pitching.
Luis Severino, who will get the ball Sunday night against David Price, has been the talk of the league, leading the MLB in Wins and making the top 10 pitchers for Ks, WAR, ERA, and K/BB ratio. Beyond Severino’s success, the Yankees starters have been slow to reach his standard of performance.
While guys like Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga might have some runway to grow in the upcoming months, there’s no way the Yankees can hang their season on their young arms. At this point two years ago Severino had already logged 100 innings and he ended that season with a 5.83 ERA. Thinking German and Loaisiga can go the distance is misguided.
Instead, the Yankees need to make sure that Sonny Gray and C.C. are performing at the caliber they need to be. From there, the Yankees will no doubt be adding another arm, but this series will determine how deep they’ll have to dig into their farm system to land the quality arm they need.
It’s been reported that the Yankees have their eyes on Lance Lynn, J.A. Happ, Blake Snell, Cole Hamels and even the wonder twins out in Flushing. Depending on how well Sony does on Saturday, and whether Severino can continue his success on Sunday will map out the Yankees trade moves in a big way.
It should be mentioned that both Gray and Severino have losing records against Boston in their careers, with Gray sitting at 1-5 and Severino at 2-5. Both pitchers also boast a career ERAs north of 4.50 against the BoSox.
At the end of the day, this series is a preview of things to come. The Red Sox and Yankees are two teams that are seeming more and more like locks for the playoffs, it just depends on how they get there. The Yankees have not won the AL East since 2012, while the Red Sox have won it 3 times during that span.
After Game 1, the Yankees now share that top spot in the East with the Sox. These next two games could decide a lot more than bragging rights.
Isn’t baseball great?
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