As I'm sure you all know, the Boston Red Sox will make their final appearance at Yankee Stadium in a three game series starting tomorrow night. I could go on and on about the history of this storied rivalry, I could put this series in perspective. I could talk about the highs and lows I've personally experienced in Yankee Stadium watching these two teams take the field. But I won't. None of that crap matters right now, we've got a pennant race going on. We'll reminisce when the season is (officially) over.
For now, let's talk about baseball. The Yanks will miss Josh Beckett, which isn't really that big of a deal considering he's sporting a 4.34 ERA, but still, he's always capable of throwing a shutout, so let's put that one in the plus column for the Yanks. They'll also miss Dice K. It seems as though the Red Sox always juggle their rotation so Matsusaka and his 5.29 bb/9 miss the Yanks. Personally, I'd like to see the Yanks face Dice K, they pretty much own him, but again, he's one of their better pitchers.
This means the Yanks will face Tim Wakefield, Paul Byrd and Jon Lester. I give them the pitching edge in game 1 (Pettitte over Wakefield), game 2 is a toss-up (Ponson more or less equals Byrd) and a toss-up in game three (Moose more or less equals Lester). A sweep means the Yanks are 2 games behind Boston, possibly further behind Minnesota in the Wild Card race. A 2-1 series win means the Yanks are 4 games behind Boston. Any other result means this season is over. Done. Kaput. A 1-2 loss drops the Yanks to 6 games behind Boston with 29 left to play. Only the Mets could squander that type of lead. A sweep at the hands of Boston would probably mean I won't be watching much more baseball this Summer.
I'll be in the upper deck tomorrow night with Mike from Green Pinstripes
. This is the final game of my ticket package, and unless the Yanks show some life in the series, it will probably be my last trip to the old stadium. The keys to the series are pretty easy. The bats need to put runs on the board, and plenty of them. Pettitte and Mussina need to pitch like they have been, Ponson needs to find a way to keep the Sox lineup at bay, no matter what it takes, Girardi needs to keep things simple with the lineup and the pen. The Yanks dug this hole, now they have two options, they can play like they want to be in the post season, play every single game like it's their last. Or they can cash their checks, go through the motions and try again next year in the new stadium.
As it has so many times before, it all starts with Andy tomorrow night. Win this game and go from there.
A couple of things worth noting heading into what might be the last meaningful series played in the Stadium.
- Wakefield hasn't pitched since Aug. 6th.
- Jon Lester is coming off a start in which he didn't get out of the third inning.
- The Yankee pen had to throw 12.2 inning over the past three games.
- Teams have not been afraid of running on Pudge's arm (3 sb's in the last two games). Molina will catch 2 of the three games in the series, most likely.