The white-hot New York Yankees are set to host the arch nemesis Boston Red Sox in a three-game set for early season AL East supremacy.
Fighting out of the red corner, coming into the series with the best record in baseball at 25 wins and nine losses, and riding a three-game winning streak; the reigning, defending, two-time AL East champion, the Boston Red Sox.
Fighting out of the blue corner, coming into the series winners of 15 of their last 16 games, including a weekend sweep of the Cleveland Indians, the Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees.
In the famous words of former boxing referee Mills Lane, “Let’s get it on!”
This will be the second meeting of the season and the first in New York. Boston took the opening series at Fenway Park two games to one. In that series, the benches cleared on two separate occasions. Punches were thrown and a scuffle ensued after Boston’s Joe Kelly plunked Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin.
Earlier in that game, Austin slid into second base with his cleats up, spiking Red Sox short stop Brock Holt in the ankle. Holt did not take kindly to that and then got into a verbal altercation with Austin. The benches cleared for the first time, but no punches were thrown.
That was then and this is now. These two teams sit atop not only the American League, but also the entire MLB. This is the first time since 2002 that the two teams square off with the two best records in baseball.
Normally a series in May is no big deal, but not when these two teams get together.
The Yankees have been lethal as of late, winning 15 of 16 and currently are on a six-game winning streak. This all started nearly two weeks ago when the Yankees called up 21-year old phenom second baseman Gleyber Torres. Since calling him up on April 22, New York has lost only one game.
Torres played the biggest role in Sunday’s come-from-behind victory over Cleveland when he jacked a walk-off, three-run home run. Not bad for someone who is barely old enough to have a drink.
Boston has been the best team in baseball and currently tote the best record. After losing on Opening Day, the Red Sox won 17 of 19, showing off their potent lineup, while also getting quality pitching.
New York is 14-5 at home while Boston is 14-5 on the road. Something will have to give in this three-game series.
The projected and suggested winner of the AL East was one of these two teams and so far, that notion looks to be right on the money.
Both of these lineups are extremely dangerous and have hit a bunch of homers this season. The Yankees have lived up to the Bronx Bombers moniker by launching 48 balls over the fence, second in all of baseball. The Red Sox are not far behind, hitting 46, fifth in baseball.
The Yankees lead the league in runs scored with 197 while the Red Sox are have scored the second-most with 192. Boston boasts the top slugging percentage in the league at .460 and New York is third at .445.
The Red Sox are led by right fielder Mookie Betts, who is the league leader in a number of categories. He leads the way in home runs with 13, runs scored (36), average (.355) and slugging percentage (.818). His availability for the series is up in the air after being hit in the shoulder with the ball while running to second base during Sunday’s win over the Rangers. Manager Alex Cora said he is day-to-day, and thinks he will play.
When it comes to the Yankees lineup, there are a plethora of deadly hitters to choose from. You can pick Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton or short stop Didi Gregorious. On the 2018 campaign thus far, Gregorious has hit 10 home runs with 30 RBIs, 27 runs scored and 19 walks. He has a slash line of .311/.399/.664.
These teams come in with two of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. New York has a team ERA of 3.43 (5th) and Boston has a team ERA of 3.45 (6th). The Yankees have struck out 355 batters and limit opponents to a .217 average. Boston’s pitches have struck out 341 batter and have a .230 average against.
The strikeout can prove to be vital in this series. Boston strikes opposing batters out, but don’t strike out much themselves. They come into the series with 256 punch outs, the fourth fewest in baseball. On the contrary, the Yankees have struck out 323 times, sixth most in baseball.
Of those 323 strikeouts, Giancarlo Stanton leads the MLB with 53. In two different games this season, Stanton recorded no hits while striking out five times, earning the rare Golden Sombrero. Yikes. The prized offseason acquisition still has plenty of time to turn things around, but his striking out is a problem through the first fifth of the season.
This should be a fun, three-game series between the two teams that are involved in arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports and the current two best teams in all of baseball. After this three-game set, these two squad will not meet again until the last weekend of June.
This heavyweight showdown has all the makings to be a 12-round, drag out fight. The rich rivalry will be on full display over the next three days.