June 4, 2021

After 56 Games, Red Sox Finally Meet The Yankees For Season's First Series

After 56 games, the Red Sox and Yankees finally meet in 2021. Boston begins a three-game series tonight in New York. From now until July 25, 14 of Boston's 46 games (30%) will be against the Yankees.

The Red Sox are coming off a four-game set in Houston in which they lost the first three games (batting only .173, being outscored 18-4, and striking out 31.4% of the time) before winning last night behind a fantastic outing from Martin Pérez (7.2-6-0-1-4, 82), who has a 1.98 ERA over his last seven starts. Also, Xander Bogaerts snapped an 0-for-24 skid with a couple of hits late in the game.

Since beating the Yankees in the 2018 ALDS en route to winning their fourth World Series title in 15 years, the Red Sox have gone 1-15 at Yankee Stadium (6-23 overall). Their last victory in the Bronx came almost exactly two years ago: June 2, 2019 (0-11 since). Thankfully, that dismal two-year showing offers no predictive value for this present series, but it does illustrate that recent sojourns in the Bronx have been devoid of gaiety and mirth.

After a 22-13 start, the Red Sox are 11-10 in their last 21 games. . . . The Yankees have lost seven of their last 10 games. . . . When the Red Sox score four or more runs, they are the best team in major league baseball: 29-3.

American League East

            W   L   GB     RS   RA  DIFF
Rays       36  22  ----   288  221   +67
Red Sox    33  23   2.0   276  232   +44
Yankees    31  26   4.5   213  209   + 4
Blue Jays  29  25   5.0   272  225   +47
Orioles    19  37  16.0   215  277   -62


Tonight, 7 PM: Nathan Eovaldi / Michael King
Saturday, 7 PM: Eduardo Rodriguez / Jameson Tallion
Sunday, 7 PM: Garrett Richards / Domingo Germán

The Red Sox have used the fewest number of players (33) this season. They have used the fewest position players (15) and are tied for the fewest pitchers (18).

The Red Sox were 17-10 (.630) in April and 15-11 (.577) in May, the only American League team with a winning percentage over .575 in each month. In the NL, the Giants and Dodgers also had two .575+ months.

Alex Speier (Globe) asks: "What in the name of Steve Balboni is happening in the Bronx?":

After their 9-2 loss to the Rays on Thursday, the Yankees ranked 27th in the majors with 3.73 runs per game. Only once before in the DH era — in 1990, when the lineup featured a lot of Álvaro Espinoza (.532 OPS) and Bob Geren (.584) as well as a hearty dose of Deion Sanders (.507) and, of course, the  Brocktonborn Balboni (.694) — had a Yankees lineup been so run-deficient to this point in a season. . . . 

The Yankees have seen their team line fall from .267/.339/.490 in 2019 to .247/.342/.447 in 2020 to .228/.317/.372 this year. Their strikeout rate has jumped from 21.7 percent last year to 25.1 percent this year, while their typical ability to offset their contact woes with power when they do make contact has fallen off considerably . . . 

Aside from Aaron Judge (.922 OPS) and Giancarlo Stanton (.814 OPS, but 1-for-16 with 9 strikeouts since returning from the injured list), the Yankees' lineup has been dreadful. The team has six regulars with an OPS below .700 in at least 100 plate appearances.

Joel Sherman, Post:

Aaron Boone promised the best is yet to come with the 2021 Yankees in April, then he did it in May and you really do have to like the manager's consistency. We are in June and his team's inconsistent play has yet to knock the optimism out of him.

The season is still young enough that Boone can vow better days ahead. . . .

Yet the season is old enough that the Yankees' pathologies are overt. So, unless they are about to get a lot more athletic, a lot higher in baseball IQ and a lot better hitting overall, especially from the left side, then Boone will be saying something like, "We are not where we need to be or where I think we will get" all the way through September and an early winter. . . .

[Brett Gardner's home run yesterday] was just the 11th homer by a Yankees lefty hitter this season. It was just their fifth lefty homer at home — you know, where they have the short right-field porch — and just their second since May 1. . . . The Yankees' lefty numbers across the board are the majors' worst. . . .

"I feel over the long haul it [the offense] will be an overwhelming strength of the team," Boone said. He said that in April, too. And May. And that quote was from before the Yanks scored two or fewer runs for the 22nd time, third most in the majors. The other four clubs who had done it at least 21 times — Baltimore, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Texas — began Thursday a combined 54 games under .500 (84-138).

Lindsey Adler and Chad Jennings (The Athletic) wonder: "Are the Red Sox really this good, and are the Yankees really this bad?":

Adler: [A]ny day in Yankeeland could go either way. They could shut down opposing hitters and drop in a couple of timely hits for a 3-1 victory, or they could shut down the opposing offense and come up short in run-scoring opportunities and lose 3-1. There isn't a variety of outcomes for the Yankees this season, but it's always unclear which one you're going to get. . . . Are the Red Sox for real?

Jennings: We might find out in the next couple of weeks, actually. This most recent four-game set in Houston didn't go well, and now they have the Yankees, then Houston again, then Toronto, then the Rays and Yankees again a week later. So, this is a stretch that could tell us a lot about them. But I'll say this: Although the Yankees have some underperforming guys . . . the Red Sox don't have an obviously overperforming guy who makes you think their decline is inevitable. Does that make sense? . . . The Red Sox have gotten here with a good-but-not-great rotation, four reliable hitters . . . plus a decent enough bullpen in front of Matt Barnes. On an individual level, there's nothing about their first 55 games that suggests they're not for real. . . .

Adler: That definitely makes sense about the Sox lineup. They have a pretty diverse set of approaches and profiles, and their lineup has actually been mentioned to me a couple of times as an example in contrast to what a lot of people say is a fairly one-dimensional Yankees lineup. . . . What's sort of remarkable is how well the Yankees pitching staff has performed despite some rough defensive stretches behind them and while working with fairly minimal run support. . . . 

Jennings: No one [in the the Red Sox rotation] really stands out — except maybe Nick Pivetta because he's exceeding expectations a bit — but they're just pretty solid from top to bottom. . . . [T]hey all tend to go five or six innings every time (rarely going deep, but rarely being pulled in the third or the fourth). . . . An important thing for the Red Sox is going to be the consistency of the bullpen. Their starters can give five or six, and Barnes has been great in the ninth, but the struggle is reliably navigating in between. . . . Lately, though, their lineup has let them down. It's hard to lean so heavily on four hitters. The Yankees might have a boom-or-bust offensive approach, but the Red Sox version of that is a lineup that does most of its damage based on Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Devers. That's a good Big 4, but they'd certainly like to lengthen the lineup a little bit . . .

Adler: This Red Sox structure sounds pretty similar to what we saw from the Yankees between 2018 and 2020, to be honest. A lot of high-scoring games then some very flat offense? Seems familiar. . . . It seems like there's a commonality in that they are talented but inconsistent, and sort of dragging a few hard-to-fix issues with them into the second third of the season. . . .

Jennings: Missing Gerrit Cole feels significant for the Red Sox, because I think he's a big difference between these two clubs. . . . Without him pitching in this series, there's no reason to think it has to go one way or the other. Like you said, I don't think it would be shocking to see any scenario play out. At the very least, the gap between these two teams feels clearly smaller than it seemed at the start of the season. But it still feels like a weird year, right? . . . I wouldn't be shocked to see the Yankees take a major step forward to become the class of the American League, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see the Red Sox keep up this slow-and-steady-wins-the-race thing to stay in contention and maybe even win the division.

Cole, by the way, got rocked by the Rays yesterday (Ryan Yarbrough threw Tampa Bay's first complete game in five years (731 games since May 14, 2016)!):

1 comment:

tim said...

"recent sojourns in the Bronx have been devoid of gaiety and mirth"

Top notch writing sir.