This weekend kicks off a stretch of 10 games in 24 days where the Red Sox and their historic rivals the Yankees play each other. Starting tonight the Red Sox currently hold a 4.5 game lead over the Bombers in the AL East standings over their foes. Riding high on an 8 game win streak, the Sox are coming into New York with a full head of steam. The Yankees on the other hand, have gone 4-6 over their last 10 and seen a lead that they built over the Red Sox in the standings towards the end of July evaporate quickly at the start of this month. These 3 games, along with the ensuing 7 in which they’ll meet, will help clear up the AL East picture and give the Red Sox a great chance to grow their lead should they take advantage of this opportunity.
Tonight’s matchup features a pair of left-handers in Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 4.03 ERA) and one of the Yankees newly acquired starting pitchers in Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.49 ERA). Based on both pitchers, tonights game figures to be a toss up.
Since coming off injury, Rodriguez has struggled to find the form which saw him post a a 4-1 record with a 2.77 ERA before tweaking his knee in Baltimore on June 1st. In 4 starts since rejoining the rotation, Rodriguez has posted a 5.66 ERA in 20.1 IP. However, in his last start against Chicago, Rodriguez displayed the talent we know he possesses in tossing 6.0 innings while surrendering just 2 runs. For the Red Sox, they hope this is just the beginning of their young lefty hitting a stride once again and they’ll look to see him build off his last start tonight. Over his career Rodriguez has faced the Yankees 7 times, going 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA over 40.2 innings.
In his only start with the Yankees since coming over from Minnesota, Garcia was tagged with 5 runs in just 4.1 innings against the Indians. The Yankees brought Garcia in to help solidify their rotation and provide competent innings, which he’s more than capable of doing. Of the 2 starters the Yankees brought in at the deadline, Garcia is clearly the lesser when comparing him to Gray. With that said, he has been able to provide flashes of brilliance as shown in his tenure with the Cardinals prior to being traded to Atlanta this past offseason and on occasion this year with both the Braves and in his one start with the Twins. This will be Garcia’s first career start against the Red Sox.
Saturday’s game looks to be the best pitching matchup of the series as the Red Sox will go with their #2 starter Drew Pomeranz (11-4, 3.36 ERA) and the Yankees countering with their emerging ace Luis Severino (9-4, 2.91 ERA).
At the beginning of this season the Red Sox and their fans alike could not have imagined a year the likes of which Pomeranz has put up so far. After his arrival from San Diego was mired in injury drama and he posted a 4.59 ERA for his new team in 13 starts, Red Sox fans were left feeling uninspired. This year however has been a completely different story. He has emerged as the teams 2nd best starter behind Chris Sale and has slowly but steadily begun pitching deeper into games, a task that was a struggle for him both last year and the beginning of this. In his only start against the Yankees this year, back on July 14th, Pomeranz went 6.0 innings and gave up 4 runs. For his career, Pomeranz has made 6 starts against the Yankees, going 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA over 36.0 innings.
Following a disappointing sophomore season for Severino, the 23 year old flame thrower has been anything but. While last year he appeared in just 22 games and made 11 starts, posting a 5.83 ERA, Severino has shown once again what made him a sensation his rookie year in 2015 by taking the reigns of a Yankee rotation that was desperate for a leader and making his first career All-Star appearance. Coming into his start against the Red Sox tomorrow, Severino has won four straight decisions and will prove to be the Red Sox toughest test out there on the mound. This will be his 3rd start against the Sox this year. In his 2 other starts he’s tossed a combined 14.0 innings, surrendered just 1 run and struck out 12. Over his career Severino has made 5 starts against Boston, going 1-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 31.1 innings.
Finally, to round out this three game set we’ll see the Red Sox run out Cy Young favorite and MVP candidate Chris Sale (14-4, 2.57 ERA) against the Yankees young left handed rookie Jordan Montgomery (7-6, 4.05 ERA).
While there isn’t enough to say about the brilliance of Chris Sale so far this season in a piece such as this one, the Yankees will undoubtedly have their hands full as he brings in a career 4-2 record and 1.17 ERA against them in 9 starts over 69.1 innings. Sale’s dominance over the Yankees was in part a huge reason the Red Sox went out and acquired the lefty this offseason. This has already been on display so far this season as Sale has surrendered just 2 runs over 15.2 innings while striking out 23 Yankee hitters. The Red Sox plan to ride his arm down the stretch here as they’ve already got their ace lined up to face the Yankees in each of their next 3 series against one another according to manager John Farrell.
Just called up from Triple-A to take the place of injured starter CC Sabathia, Montgomery will be tasked with facing the best pitcher in the AL, his team’s biggest rival, and a Sunday Night prime time appearance under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. This will be a massive test for the 24 year old rookie and time will tell whether he’ll be up for matching Sale pitch for pitch. Much to his credit though Montgomery has put together a fine debut campaign for the Yankees and has given this team a solid #3-4 starter to help lengthen their rotation. Last month Montgomery made his only career appearance against the Red Sox, a start in which he went 4.0 innings and gave up 3 runs.
This weekend will be just the tip of the iceberg for these two teams in helping decide who holds the upper hand in the division as we head into this crucial stretch of 10 meetings over 24 days. While the Red Sox have played well of late, they’ve been an inconsistent ball club overall and could see their good fortune run out when they show up in the Bronx tonight, provided the Yankees pitching holds up. The Yankees currently hold a 6-3 lead in the season series between the two teams, but with their best hitter in Aaron Judge struggling mightily since the All-Star Break (.172/.336/.356) the Yankees will need to find other ways to produce runs if they want to catch the Red Sox.
Baseball has lacked a true battle for the AL East title between the Red Sox and Yankees since 2011. With this weekends series and their meetings in the near future, it looks like these old foes will once again be playing meaningful games against each other. It may not exactly be able to rival the era of 2003-2004 that these two teams and their fans once saw, but it’s nice seeing both teams towards the top of the standings and fighting it out for AL East supremacy.