Possible the biggest weekend in the entire season for baseball – and its not only the Red Sox vs. Yankees series in the Bronx. Minnesota is at Detroit in an AL Central battle that could change the standings in that division. Plus, the next best series would be Texas at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for an AL West battle.
Yankees have lost all 8 games against Boston this season but still hold a 2.5 game lead over Boston in the AL East. One thing is for certain – these are NOT the same two teams that faced off earlier in the season.
The Yankees seem to be firing on all cylinders going into this series – something that was a concern of mine after this past weekend when the team seemed to be limping. The pitching staff seems to have settled down well and the offense is making it happen when it counts. Peter Abraham of the Journal News predicts the Yankees will win 3 games. Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio predicts the Yankees will win 3 games.
If I’m a Yankee player, I am not as scared of this team as I would have been earlier this year. For example, former Yankee-killer Jason Bay (Boston’s left-fielder) has cooled off dramatically this season – going from hitting well over .300 to a .252 BA. He will also miss at least the first two games with hammy issues. David Ortiz is dealing with steroid rumors
The Yankees come off a 2 game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Red Sox are limping in after getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Joba Chamberlain (7-2) will start the series opener Thursday night and will definitly bring some fire and passion to the mound for the Bombers. Joba is currently enjoying the best period of his career. Since the All Star break he is 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA and has allowed only 8 hits in 22 IP. He will face off against the oldest man in the world – John Smoltz – although the future hall-of-famer can break out and pitch a great game, he has done poorly this season since coming back from injuries and has a 9.18 ERA since the A-S break.
If Joba wins tonight, it will be the first time in his career that he has won 4 straight starts.
The Yankees altered their rotation after their off-day Monday to be able to have their four best starters available for the series – Chamberlain, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte will all start for the Yankees this weekend. A great managerial move.
In closing, there is one other possible wild card to this series – the Red Sox schedule for the rest of August. After this four game set against the Yankees, the Sox play four against AL Central leading Detroit, three at Texas, three at Toronto and then back to Boston for another series against the Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Yankees play three more against Toronto at home, 4 at Seattle and 3 at Oakland before facing Boston again at Fenway. Although they do spend almost two weeks away, it is a much easier schedule. It will be interesting to see what happens in the AL East after the next 2 1/2 weeks…