If that pitching match-up doesn't get your blood pumping, there's something wrong with you. One proven ace, one out to prove himself.
Every time the Yanks and Sox take the field to face each other there's a heightened sense of importance to the game. Tonight will be no different. On Monday, the Yanks could be looking down at the Sox in the standings, or they could be 2, 4 or 6 games back of their nemesis. Tonight's game will set the tone.
Beckett has been hittable, to say the least, in July. He's posted a deceptive 2-1 record, but pitched to the tune of a 5.68 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, while only striking out 5.6/9 innings. Two keys when facing Beckett, and the Sox in general:
- Take advantage of early opportunities. The first couple of innings are usually when great pitchers are most vulnerable, don't let him off the hook if he gets into early trouble.
- Grind out at bats. If you can get Beckett out of the game by the 6th, Boston will have to go to their weak middle relief.
Obvious points, and they're applicable to just about every opponent, but tonight's more so than most. Guys like Giambi, A-Rod, Damon and Abreu know what they have to do. They'll work the count. The thing that worries me about the Yankee lineup as currently constructed is the bottom third. Melky, Molina and Gardner need to be patient. If Beckett can breeze through the bottom of the lineup he can essentially take a breather for a full inning on the mound. If those guys can contribute pesky at bats, maybe get on base, put him in the stretch and make him worry about the stolen base, Beckett won't be long for the game and the Manny Delcarmens of the world will have to eat up innings.
On the other side of the ball, Joba will have David Ortiz to contend with. The Sox DH chose tonight to make his triumphant return from the DL. My advice to Joba when dealing with Ortiz: high heat. When healthy, I don't think Ortiz could catch up to a letter-high Joba fastball, a rusty Ortiz stands no chance.
A sweep and we're tied, but let's worry about tonight's game for now. Mike from Green Pinstripes
is coming over to watch the game. If you want a Sox perspective, check out Who Made You Mirabelli?