The odds are against the Yankees overtaking the Red Sox in the A.L. East. There's no getting around that. It would basically take a sweep of this series, and then 13 more games of excellence. After a sweep, if the Yanks finish the season 9-4, the Sox would have to finish 8-6. Without a sweep, the East is pretty much out of the question.
Maybe this is why Terry Francona lost his mind last night. Maybe he just wanted the whole thing to be over with. Or, maybe he realizes the Yankees own his team. Maybe he realizes that his team just can't get the job done against the Yanks. Maybe he knows the Sox are living off their hot start at this point, and they've really come back down to Earth.
No matter what, he has to realize that his team is in trouble. The Sox have had two strengths all year long, the front end of their rotation and the back end of their bullpen. The Yankees have absolutely abused those two strengths. Take a look at Hideki Okajima, Francona's secret weapon. In his past two outings against the Bombers he's given up 7 earned runs in 1 inning of work, facing mainly lefties. He's only given up 10 earned runs in 66 innings otherwise. Papelbon's given up 11 earned runs the entire season, 3 to the Yankees, all in blown save opportunities.
The Sox and their delusional fans
may be trying to paint a rosy picture this morning about how "It's only 1 game," and "We still have the lead," but we all know they're full of it. The Yankees are a better team, and the Yankees have their number.
In the standings, all of those wins the Sox stacked up in April and May mean a whole lot. As we head into the playoffs, these teams jockey for position, and possibly face each other in the post season, it's the last two series that are going to mean the most. No start by a Boston pitcher is a sure thing. No lead is safe. Last night was just another step on the path to passing Boston, whether it happens now or in the playoffs is irrelevant. Here's one prediction, though. If the Yankees do catch Boston that team is going to be so shattered they're going to get swept out of the playoffs in the first round.
Sox fans can still lean on the standings, live off early-season glory, but everyone in that Red Sox dugout knows that even if this team manages to hold on to the A.L. East, they've still folded. They don't measure up to the Yankees, and they should blame their GM, but no one will.
Game 2 starts at 3:55 on Fox and I'll be watching the balance of power shift again, I hope you will too, because it's a thing of beauty.