Game 56: Red Sox at Yankees - Showdown in the Bronx

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

If you’d asked the so-called experts prior to the season if the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees would be in first- and second-place, respectively, in the AL East going into the last day of May, they probably would have rolled their eyes at you and laughed. Hey, why not? The Sox were coming of 69 wins in 2012 and the Yanks had the injury bug in Spring Training, knocking out most of the power in their lineup. But here we stand, Red Sox (33-22) in first and Yankees (30-23) just two games back. Let’s get it on!

Tonight begins a crucial three-game set in the Bronx, as the Sox have a chance to distance themselves from their hated rival. Meanwhile, the Bombers, with a sweep, could take back over first in the East. Nothing like adding a little something-something to this already grand rivalry. Tonight, two of the game’s best do battle as Jon Lester goes for the Sox and CC Sabathia takes the hill for the Yanks. Lester is 6-1 with a 3.34 ERA. Sabathia doesn’t have the record (4-4), per se, but has a 3.96 ERA and can be dominant when he turns it on.

Here is Boston’s lineup for Game No. 1 in Yankee Stadium (first pitch – 7:05 pm EDT):

1. Nava, LF
2. Gomes, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Napoli, 1B
6. Drew, SS
7. Ross, C
8. Bradley Jr., CF
9. Iglesias, 3B

Lester, P

After swiping a team record five bases in Thursday night’s win in Philadelphia, Jacoby Ellsbury takes the night off, giving way to rookie phemon Jackie Bradley Jr. Ells was scratched with tightness in left groin, which he said he felt after his fifth stolen base. Bradley Jr. will bat eighth and play center field. This will be JBJ’s first start in center this season. Daniel Nava will leadoff for the Sox and play left with Jonny Gomes batting second and playing right.

Good eye
Per pregame Sox Notes: Boston batters lead MLB with 4.08 pitches seen per plate appearance. That’s good news in many ways: 1) It means the hitters are either being real patient OR fouling off fringe pitches to hit the one they like best, and 2) The more pitches a pitcher throws, the less amount of time he will be on the mound. If Sox batters make a starter throw roughly four pitches per at-bat and send 4-5 players to the plate an inning, the starter will likely only last 5-6 innings and not get deep into a game. We saw Cliff Lee keep his pitch count low the other night and we also saw how effective he was against these Red Sox.

Run, run, run, runaway
In their last 11 games, a pattern has developed when it comes to wins and losses for the Red Sox. Boston has scored six runs or more in each of its six wins and four or less in five losses. It appears that when the Sox score, they score in bunches. And if they don’t, it’s good night, sweetheart. Let’s hope the Sox can light up the Yankee Stadium scoreboard this weekend.

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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