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I’d prefer to title this “How the Yankees have had bad timing against Boston.” Yes, it’s well documented that the Yankees have lost all eight meetings so far against the Red Sox. But, I think we need a further examination as to why the Red Sox have won all eight games to see if we can expect this dominance to continue.
The first meeting was at Fenway and the Yankees lost 5-4. Both teams had a lot of baserunners as the Yankees had 21 and the Red Sox had 19. The Yankees had a two-run lead in the bottom of the 9th when Mariano Rivera blew the save. Mariano’s fastball was 1-2 mph slower in this game and his control was off as well. Also of note is that Alex Rodriguez was not playing this game as he was still rehabbing his hip.
The next game between the two teams came the next afternoon in Boston and both teams brought the offense to the table as the final score was 16-11. Both starters gave up 8 runs and the bullpens made the difference. The Yankees used three relievers no longer on their major league roster in Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Jonathan Albaladejo. These three relievers combined for six runs allowed (five earned). However, it’s likely that in a game where they needed many innings out of the pen for a second straight game that they still would have had a run or two coughed up by their current replacements, Brian Bruney, Phil Hughes, and Brett Tomko (especially likely by Tomko). So, this game the Yankees probably still would have lost. Then again, that A-Rod guy was also on the DL still.
The third loss was the next night by the score of 4-1. This game featured the Red Sox just pitching very well and the Yankees could do nothing to touch the stuff of pitchers they were unfamiliar with. This game also featured a notable moment: Andy Pettitte did not keep track of Jacoby Ellsbury on third base, and Ellsbury took advantage of that to steal home.
The next loss would come two weeks later at the new stadium. Phil Hughes faced off against Jon Lester and Hughes did not have good control, so the pitches he left over the plate were hit pretty hard. Al Aceves coming in and giving up 2 runs did not help either, since that was the deciding margin. This was also the game where the Yankees would lose Jorge Posada for about a month.
The next night would be the loss No. 5. Joba Chamberlain started this game for the Yankees and while his 12 strikeouts were great, he was only able to go 5 2/3 innings and gave up four runs and left plenty of time for the bullpen to falter. One of the key figures to reappear in that effort was Jonathan Albaladejo. Mark Melancon, who the Yankees have high hopes for, gave up a run without getting an out. Also, offensively the Yankees were missing both A-Rod and Posada.
The sixth loss would be by a score of 7-0 and Burnett just did not have his command at all on this occasion. He only lasted 2 2/3 innings and the Tomko-Veras combination helped to contribute to the team’s bad pitching, while Josh Beckett shut down the team’s offense.
The next night, the Red Sox would beat the Yankees, despite the fact that the Yankees had two more baserunners. Chien-Ming Wang was reinserted into the rotation for his prior start and has always had trouble at Fenway and was still trying to find his stuff. He did not and Hughes had to come in early in relief and eat some innings. The two of them gave up all of Boston’s runs, but Wang really put the team in a hole and position to lose.
Finally, the Yankees would lose 4-3 to Boston in a game started by C.C. Sabathia and Brad Penny. Sabathia pitched pretty well outside of a home run yielded to the struggling David Ortiz. The Yankees offense, on the other hand, was ready to ride their slump (which they are coincidentally currently in) and make Brad Penny look good so that the Red Sox could get something for him at the trade deadline.
Looking back at the games, most of the time the Yankees faltered because of pitching. The blown save by Mariano is unexpected and unlikely to re-occur. The poor relief pitching was a major factor as well, but most of the guilty parties are no longer going to be involved in future matchups. And finally, having two of their key hitters healthy will allow the Yankees to score more runs against Boston. And seeing as A-Rod’s been more clutch this year than Jeter, that is a key addition.
So no, I don’t expect Boston to go 17-0 in the season series. I think the Yankees, health permitting, will at worst, split the remaining games.