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Fallout from the Yankee Series

In this week’s BSoT Red Sox Column to be Named Later, I look at the fall-out from the Red Sox eventful weekend series in the Bronx against the Yankees, and a few other thoughts heading into the Fourth of July holiday.

Photo Courtesy of fox61.com
Stranger Things

The Red Sox – Yankee series was hyped as a clash of the two best teams in the American League, if not all of baseball.  Both teams are on pace to win over 100 games this season, and the two teams rank one or two in virtually all major offensive categories.  The series was expected to feature close, exciting games with both teams battling until the end.  Instead, neither team had to utilize their end of the bullpen relievers, much less their closers.  In fact, all three games were decided before the fifth inning, with the last two decided in the first inning.

C.C. Sabathia continued the domination over the Red Sox that he has enjoyed over the past few seasons.  This should have come as no surprise to Red Sox fans.  Since September of 2016 the portly left-hander is 3-0 against the Red Sox in Yankee Stadium with a 1.94 ERA in four starts.  This includes a start earlier this season in which he allowed four earned runs in only four innings of work.

The bigger surprise in the game came from the performance of Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez.  E-Rod struggled from the very beginning of the game, and the game got away from him quickly in the fourth inning when he allowed a pair of home runs that gave the Yankees a 5-0 lead.  With Sabathia dealing, the Red Sox could not mount any sort of comeback.

The roles were reversed on Saturday night, as Yankee starter Sunny Gray continued his season struggles and Red Sox ace Chris Sale dominated throughout en route to an 11-0 Boston victory.  However, any hopes of a Red Sox series win were quickly squelched in the bottom of the first inning Sunday night.  Pitching roles were reversed yet again, with David Price turning into a puddle under the bright lights and surrendering a pair of first inning homers and lasting only 3 1/3 innings while allowing eight earned runs.  More on Price’s outing in a bit.

The series was disheartening for Red Sox fans because two of the team’s top four pitchers (Price and Rodriguez) displayed no ability to match up with the Yankees in a hostile environment.  If neither can produce in games in late June/early July when each one had been pitching their best games of the season, what hope is their for a playoff series in September?

Blowout wins in Red Sox Yankee match-ups are not uncommon, however, to have three blowouts in a single series with the teams exchanging beatings is certainly an unprecedented happening.  The Red Sox stepped up to their bullies in game two, but as the age old saying goes, momentum is only good as the next day’s starting pitcher, which in the Red Sox case, was Price.

Price Check in Yankee Stadium

In my last BSoT article, I explained what David Price needed to accomplish in his start against the Yankees.  Unfortunately, I was prophetic in writing If he gets lit up, he needs to stay in the game and show Red Sox fans that he is willing to battle until Alex Cora comes out to the mound and takes the ball from his hand”.  Sadly for Red Sox fans, this happened with only one out in the fourth inning after the Yankees had taken Price deep five times.

The start was certainly not up to anyone’s standards or expectations, especially when the player in question is your number two pitcher and the highest paid player on your team by a wide margin.  However, the intent of the article was to illustrate that Price could not afford yet another bypass of the Yankees to further his growing reputation as being soft.  Price did just that, and by all accounts answered questions post game without sarcasm or references to Fortnite.  A very small step for Price, but a step in the right direction. 

With three series still left to play against the Yankees, including seven out of ten games in Fenway, it is almost a certainty that Price will have to face them again.  The Red Sox need an effective David Price to get to the postseason, and Price needs to work out whatever demons he has in his head if the Red Sox have any hopes of passing the Yankees for the AL East championship. 

What’s Left to Say?

The Yankees certainly demonstrated that they are capable of mashing left-handed pitching this weekend (with the obvious exception of Chris Sale, of course).  On the season, the Yankees are slashing .266/.339/.524 in 26 starts against left-handers with 56 home runs.  Overall, the AL slash line against left-handers is .250/.318/.411.

Credit must be given to Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman for building a team that is not only capable of taking advantage of the Red Sox abundance of Red Sox left handed starters, but also a team perfectly suited to take advantage of the short dimensions to right field in Yankee Stadium.  Say what you will about how Yankee Stadium plays like a little league field; the Yankees are ideally constructed to make the most of their home field advantage, much the same way that the Red Sox stockpiled powerful right-handed pull hitters over the decades.  One more reason it will be in the Red Sox best interest to win the AL East so they can have home field advantage should they face them in a playoff series.

Who’s Trending Up

Rafael Devers continued his recent surge at the plate over the past week, batting .375 with two home runs and seven RBIs in seven games.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has also begun his slow climb over the Mendoza line.  Bradley parlayed a pair of three hit games earlier in the week to an overall .391 average dating back to the finale against Seattle last Sunday.  However, Bradley’s struggles returned upon leaving the friendly confines of Fenway Park, picking up only one hit in nine at bats against the Yankees.

On the pitching side, Brian Johnson turned in a good outing in an emergency start last week.  Pressed into service after Steven Wright landed on the disabled list again with knee soreness, Johnson allowed only one run in four innings against the Angels.

In the bullpen, Brandon Workman continued to pitch well since his call up from Pawtucket.  Last week, Workman logged three innings of relief and did not allow a run while striking out three.

Who’s Trending Down

Xander Bogaerts has been trending slowly downward over the past few weeks, and last week saw him dip even lower.  Bogaerts batted only .227 over the past week with no runs batted in.

Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi also find themselves under the trending down category once again.   In five games with Benintendi batted only .208 on the week, though he did manage to make the most of his five hits with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.  Moreland took a sharp dive down as well, batting only .150 with just one extra base hit, one RBI, and six strikeouts in five games.

Sales of the Joe Kelly Fight Club t-shirt must be in decline.  Kelly has struggled mightily over the past few outings, and last week saw his stock continue to drop.  Kelly logged only 1 1.3 innings pitched and allowed three runs, two of them earned, with a 10.80 ERA and a 3.60 WHIP.

The Road Ahead

The Red Sox road trip continues for six more games in Washington and Kansas City sandwiched around an off day on Thursday.  One thing to keep in mind while you’re heading out to your Fourth of July cookouts on Wednesday is the Red Sox will be taking on the Nationals in Washington at 11 AM.  Hopefully there are no fireworks courtesy of the National bats.

Not Just the Nation’s Birthday

To all our Boston Sports on Tap readers and listeners, I wish you a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.  And I want to also wish a special Happy Fourth and Happy Birthday to Debbie Travers - my wife, Michael and Chris’ mom, one of the most knowledgeable sports fans that I know, and one of BSoT’s biggest fans and supporters.  She has logged countless hours at baseball fields, hockey rinks, basketball courts and soccer fields watching our boys play as they were growing up, and she never wanted to miss a game no matter the weather or how far we had to travel to get to the game.  A true Sports Mom in every way.


Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_BSoT. 

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