Being an introvert with a positive outlook on all things, I rarely am the bearer of bad news. Unfortunately, I must declare that the coming days mark an unofficial end to summer time. The little people are heading back to school, and dads across America will be rehearsing their annual “Who adjusted the thermostat” monologues. But, it’s not all bad. Your local grocer will soon be stocking the gone but never forgotten Golden Egg Nog, and Patriots football has TB12 leading New England to aspirations of 19-0. And of course, we have postseason baseball. It’s almost two completely different seasons; for four months, the sun is either bearing down on the Fenway faithful for a matinee matchup, or barely starting to set on a humid summer evening. Yet, when playoff baseball begins, it’s nowhere to be found. The sky is pitch black, and the air is as crisp as the $20 spot the Bank of America ATM just spit out, only to be spent on a light beer and chicken fingers. So here’s hoping that for the first time since the miraculous 2004 ALCS comeback, we might actually have a Yankees-Red Sox October matchup. Not to get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the final regular season series between the bitter rivals.
Although outscoring our Boys of Summer by a fair margin, the win-loss record is as even as it can get in an odd number of matchups; 8-7 in favor of the bad guys. But with our hometown heroes holding the AL’s 2nd best record, the Sox should take at least three victories onto their chartered flight back from the Bronx. A sweep is possible, but unlikely, given the venue, talent, and New York’s desperate scramble to overtake the division lead. Going back to last night, Kimbrel flew out Joey no bats to extend the lead to four games. This is significant, because with Porcello going tonight, and a Bronx doubleheader also on tap, we have a chance to enter New York with a 5.5 game lead. This might not be realistic, given the ups and down of Pork, and the oft-split outcome of most doubleheaders, but it’s worth mentioning. Alternatively, we may drearily head to New York up 2.5 if the losses and wins of the day all fall in the wrong places. Hence, the significance of taking games 1 & 2 from Toronto.
Also in the Sox favor will be the bullpen situation. Kimbrel will 100% get tonight off after three consecutive outings, throwing over 60 combined pitches. Which means he’ll be rested and able to contribute for at least the first two games. Now, if Encarnacion and company can break out the bats, we’ll be looking at a spent Yankee bullpen, with the walking question mark known as Aroldis Chapman, thus putting more stress on their starters. With Sabathia slated for game one, averaging a monster 5 2/3 innings per sobrie.. sorry, innings per start, the Sox should be aggressive against the hefty lefty, and consider running early and often against the cheap shot, yet strong armed, backstop.
What remains to be seen is if the other three Boston starters outside of Chris Sale can shut down the opposition. With Porcello going tonight and seemingly out of the question for an appearance in New York, it’ll be up to the hot hand of Fister, the inconsistent E-Rod, and Drew Pomeranz who’s grown on Sox Nation with each passing month. Frazier has hit the Sox hard since being traded from Chicago, Sanchez is on fire, and they’ve got power up and down the lineup with the usual short porch in right. Could be an issue.
The four game set will not lack intensity. New York is coming off a bitter brawl that did nothing but prove Joe Torre is operating off of a Roger Goodell crayon written disciplinary handbook, and the Yanks won’t want to be embarrassed by Boston in the Bronx. The Sox are in good position to start early September off with a demanding 5.5 or 6.5 game lead, and have a three game set with Cincinnati awaiting them as well. Don’t overestimate the season’s final series with Houston; the Astros will have nothing to play for, except for the slight possibility they’ll be battling Boston for top record in the league. The ‘stros will be looking to enter the postseason as healthy as a vegan who considers Tylenol a street drug.
I’m predicting the runnin’ Red Sox leaving Yankee Stadium up 6.5 games, with offensive contributions coming from Mr. Ramirez, to ease some of the edge off our end of summer blues. I want to see the Evil Empire walk off the field Sunday night, heads hung low, knowing they’ve punted away back to back division titles.