It’s a huge weekend for New York sports and a huge weekend for Boston sports. Not only do we get the excitement and thrill of the final Red Sox-Yankees series at Yankee Stadium this weekend, but New Yorkers get the thrill of a 2-0 Jets team going against the 0-2 Titans (who were 13-3 last season) and New Englanders get the 2-0 Falcons visiting the 1-1 Patriots.
The Jets are the thrill of NYC right now – everyone expected the Giants to be 2-0, but the Jets were expected to be 0-2 at this point – in fact, many expected them to start the season 1-4 or 0-5. The Pats were supposed to be 2-0, but after a bad loss to the Jets and a just-barely-won game against Buffalo, many are questioning their skill beyond that of Tom Brady. Football will be big this weekend.
But, I digress. Let’s get back to baseball.
I’m going to call this the biggest weekend in baseball in 2009. However, that’s not saying much. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the AL playoff race is BORING. It’s pretty obvious who is making the playoffs. – Yankees have already clinched – Boston is 8 games over Texas for the Wild Card, and the LA Angels are 7 games over Texas for the Al West crown. The only “race” still up for grabs is the AL Central – where Detroit and Minnesota will battle for the right to lose to the Yankees or (God forbid) Boston in the Divisional Playoff Series.
So this weekend’s excitement purely comes from the Boston @ New York Yankees series in the Bronx. Both teams are very similar. Boston is 7-3 in their last 10 games; the Yankees are 6-4. Both teams also seem to have 3 quality starters ready to go for the playoffs – Lester, Beckett and Matsuzaka for the Sox and Sabatha, Burnett and Pettitte for the Yanks.
The two teams have an interesting history this season – after losing the first 8 games of the season to the Red Sox, the Bombers are 6-1 and have found a way to dominate as of late. But if the history between this rivalry tells us anything – it’s that nothing matters except how the teams play that day. After all, it’s a very colorful history between these two teams.
I am tempted to simply give Boston the win tonight. Joba Chamberlain pitches against Jon Lester. Although my man-love for Joba has waned just a tad, I still love him – but let’s face reality. He sucks right now and Lester doesn’t. To win the Yankees need him to pitch 5 solid innings – like 2 runs or less. Anything less than that, and Girardi should consider giving up on him for the season. The Yankees need someone dominating in the postseason, not a question mark.
Plus, the Yankees have never, I repeat, never beaten Lester. Dating back to last season, Lester is 3-0 in six starts and has held A-Rod to a .154 average (2-13) against him. That’s domination and that’s why the Red Sox are the favorite to win tonight.
I do like the other two games’ matchups – CC Sabathia against Matsuzaka and Andy Pettitte against Byrd. Matsuzaka is pitching well since returning from injury, but Sabathia is an ace and he knows that the CY Young award is on the line. He needs to prove he deserves it more then Zach Greinke of Kansas City. And Pettitte always pitches well when it’s important.
At the plate, Victor Martinez brings a 23-game hitting streak to the Bronx and has hit well against the Yankees since being traded to Boston.
Despite the hype and excitement, unless the Red Sox sweep the Yankees this weekend, they have little chance to pass them and win the division crown. With a 5.5 game lead and easier final week scheduling, the Yankees have the edge.