July 15, 2021

Red Sox Begin "Second Half" With Four Games Against Yankees (And 8 Games In 11 Days)

The AL East-leading Boston Red Sox begin the "second half" of the 2021 regular season tonight in the Bronx. They will play 18 games in 18 days, all against teams in their own division.

They will battle the Yankees eight times over the next 11 days and finish the stretch with three games in Florida against the second-place Rays. Their next day off is Monday, August 2.

July 15-16-17-18      at Yankees
July 19-20-21         at Blue Jays
July 22-23-24-25      vs Yankees
July 26-27-28-29      vs Blue Jays
July 30-31-August 1   at Rays

American League East 

             W   L   PCT    GB    RS   RA   DIFF   EXPWL
Red Sox     55  36  .604  ----   464  407   + 57   51-40
Rays        53  37  .589   1.5   440  355   + 85   54-36
Blue Jays   45  42  .517   8.0   444  372   + 72   50-37
Yankees     46  43  .517   8.0   370  369   +  1   45-44
Orioles     28  61  .315  26.0   364  502   -138   32-57

American League Ranking (15 teams)

             Red Sox  Yankees
Wins           1st       7th
Runs/Game      3rd      10th
Runs           2nd      12th
Hits           2nd      13th
Doubles        1st      14th
Triples        8th      15th
Home Runs      6th       7th
Average        3rd       9th
On-Base        5th       4th
Slugging       4th      10th
OPS            3rd       8th
Total Bases    2nd      12th
GIDP          11th       2nd

Chris Sale begins his minor league rehab assignment today! He'll pitch two innings against low-level minor leaguers in Florida, but it's still a big step on his road back from the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery he had on March 30, 2020.

Sale will likely need four (or maybe five) rehab starts before he joins the Red Sox. Mid-August seems like a possibility, which would give him roughly six or seven weeks with the Red Sox before the postseason.

The Red Sox, tied with the Astros with the most wins in the AL (55), are rated as having an 89.0% chance to make the postseason, down from a high of 96.1% on July 5. It's the sixth-highest % in MLB. The Yankees are at only 12.9%; six weeks ago, their chances were at 62.7%.

David Schoenfield (ESPN) gave out grades to all 30 teams:

Boston Red Sox: A

Most prognosticators picked the Red Sox fourth in the division after two lackluster seasons following the 2018 World Series title. Alex Cora's return provided some optimism, but the pitching staff looked problematic and the offense had some holes. The rotation has been more solid than great, but here's the key: All five starters have made at least 17 starts. Meanwhile, the bullpen has been excellent, with the top five relievers all with sub-3.00 ERAs, including All-Star closer Matt Barnes. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers have bounced back from rough 2020 seasons, and the Red Sox's offense once again looks like a Red Sox offense. Bonus: Chris Sale is about to begin his rehab assignment. [Only the Giants got a better grade (A+).]

New York Yankees: D+

It was tempting to give them an F given their preseason expectations, and that seemed fair when they fell to .500 at 41-41. Then they won five of six, including back-to-back shutouts against Houston, and the thought was maybe they had rescued their season just in time. Then came Sunday's gut-punch loss to the Astros, when the Yankees allowed six runs in the bottom of the ninth, and they head into the second half with that bitter taste. So we settled on a D+. They're 0-6 against the Red Sox and kick off the second half with eight of their first 10 games against them. Those eight games might tell us whether the Yankees claw back into at least the wild-card race or instead have a chance at their first losing season since 1992.

In New York:

Joel Sherman, Post:

The list of Yankees shortcomings is long, and it's growing in disrepute in this disappointing season. That list includes a lack of lefty hitting, defensive acuity and athleticism.

But should we include that the Yankees have a glass jaw?

Are the Yankees fake tough guys? Are they bullies who talk the talk, but tend to get walked off in key moments? . . .

I do wonder if [Aroldis] Chapman is representative of the Yankees. Immensely talented, but questionably clutch. Preening in good times, overwhelmed in bad. In the sticky-stuff portion of this season . . . Chapman was as nearly unhittable as he had been at any point in a largely unhittable career.

In the less glue-y part of the season, however, Chapman's stuff has regressed, so has his success level and so has his confidence. The defiant, boasting stare has been replaced by bewilderment and despair.  . . . On Sunday, the manager did not even warm up Chapman as Chad Green was giving away the last of a five-run lead to send the Yankees into the break with what feels like a seven-way tie for their worst loss of 2021.

The final blow was delivered by Jose Altuve . . . [A]gainst the Yankees . . . he has two more walk-off homers — one off Chapman to clinch the 2019 ALCS and one Sunday off Green — than Judge has hit in his whole career.

Altuve's homer Sunday came a day after Judge homered and tugged at his shirt to troll the Houston second baseman . . .

[S]hould Judge already have learned a trolling lesson? In 2018, the Yankees won Game 2 of the Division Series at Fenway Park, and Judge loudly played "New York, New York" while passing the Red Sox clubhouse. The Yankees returned to The Bronx and lost the next two games and the series at home. The Red Sox then played "New York, New York" in their clubhouse after winning the World Series — their fourth this century.

There is a theme here. The Astros, Red Sox and Rays are all good at standing up to the Yankees. There is no mystique or aura any longer — perhaps that disappeared when they moved into a new stadium that is more placid mall than gladiatorial hellhole. . . . Whatever happened to The Savages? . . .

The Yankees begin the second half with four games against the Red Sox at home and they will play seven of their first 10 post-break games against Boston before three at Tampa Bay. Those games will be defining in many ways. The Yankees already are 0-6 against the Red Sox, and if that starts growing toward 0-10 in The Bronx, there will be a toxic level of fury and humiliation.

And the Yankees must contend with a Red Sox squad that, under Alex Cora, plays with an aggression and real confidence that they lack. On Saturday against the Astros, in a 1-0 game, Tim Locastro reached first with one out in the fifth inning and Brett Gardner reached first with two out in the ninth inning  . . . Neither time did the Yankees attempt a steal. Speed is pretty much Locastro's and Gardner's skill. Why are they even on the team if Boone is not going to demand a steal try in that spot?

You can build a team that sits around and waits for homers. But what you get is a horrible combo of passivity and bullyism — if you land the punch, you win, if not, you absorb all the punches. . . . Can the Yankees summon the fight to get off the ropes of this season or do they really have a glass jaw?

Dan Martin, Post:

The Yankees have been among MLB's biggest disappointments in the first half. World Series aspirations have turned into the Yankees trying to get back into the wild-card race in the second half, as the Red Sox and Rays take control of the AL East. . . . Who's responsible for the subpar showing in The Bronx? Let's grade it out: . . .

Aroldis Chapman: D

Like Cole, it's been a tale of two seasons for the closer, although the reason for the collapse is a little less clear. . . . [H]e's gone from as dominant a regular season stretch by a closer to completely lost, practically overnight. If the Yankees aren't able to get Chapman and Cole right, it doesn't matter what else they do.

Gleyber Torres: D

. . . His power has vanished and he still makes too many mistakes at shortstop.

Aaron Boone: D

The Yankees insist there is enough talent on the roster to contend, but the fourth-year manager hasn't been able to tap into it.

Brian Cashman: D

An offseason that included signing Kluber, Gardner, O'Day and Wilson and trading for Taillon has, at best, been a disappointment. And bringing back LeMahieu at that price hasn't looked good so far.

1 comment:

allan said...

A planned power outage in our town -- and I still forgot to post this last night. So pretend it's Thursday morning when you read it.