September 25, 2009

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

The series we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. With the playoff race not quite as tight as expected, the tension won’t be at its normally peak height when the Red Sox and Yankees battle in the Bronx. However, it’s still Red Sox and Yankees in September, and both teams have a chance to clinch a playoff seed.

It’s been a long season. If you don’t recall, the Yanks lost the first eight games of the season series against their rivals. Since then, the Yanks have won six of the last seven, making it possible to tie the season series with a sweep.

Playoff Meaning:
If the Yankees sweep, not only do they tie the season series, but they also clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the right to pick the length of the ALDS. The magic number for the Red Sox is three, so they could technically clinch a playoff berth if Texas is swept by Tampa Bay this weekend.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Red Sox starters: Yankees starters:
Fri., 7:05 p.m. Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33) Joba Chamberlain (8-6, 4.72)
Sat., 4:10 p.m. D. Matsuzaka (3-5, 6.80) CC Sabathia (18-7, 3.31)
Sun., 1:05 p.m. Paul Byrd (1-2, 6.04) Andy Pettitte (13-7, 4.15)

Chamberlain hasn’t made a quality start since July 29 against Tampa Bay — his best start of the season and probably career. Meanwhile, Lester has tossed nine straight quality starts and has struck out 10 or more hitters twice in that span dating back to Aug. 4.

”Dice-K” has made two promising starts for the Red Sox in his return from missing three months due to injury. Sabathia is also riding a streak of nine quality starts, and he’s struck out 10 on three different occasions. He beat the Red Sox twice in August, only allowing three runs in 14-1/3 innings.

Byrd has been a decent No. 5 starter for the Red Sox since being picked up at the end of August, while Pettitte is coming off a loss in a quality start against the Angels. This game was normally set for the usual Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, but Major League Baseball and ESPN took the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, into account.

My Outlook:
The Yankees have a good chance at a sweep if they can come away with a win tonight, but that is no easy task. Chamberlain is a HUGE question mark and Lester has been filthy. But the Yanks can have an offensive outburst on any pitcher, and put runs on the board quickly. I think the Yanks are fighting for the pride of tying a season series. That’s all they should be thinking about.

Magic Number: 5

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