RHP Phil Hughes (3-0, 1.44) vs. Josh Beckett RHP (1-0, 6.31)
LHP CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97)
RHP AJ Burnett (4-0, 1.99) vs. LHP Jon Lester (2-2, 3.93)
- Don’t expect the games to go quicker even after umpire Joe West called the length of the games between “embarrassing.” Yanks-Sox games always go long because they are so important for each team. My advice to Joe West, deal with it.
- Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada should be available for this series. If they do not play tonight look for them to get some work in during the second and third games of the series.
- Since Posada went out, Francisco Cervelli has a .360 average and 6 RBIs in 25 at bats with only one strikeout.
- During his last two appearances against the Bombers, Beckett has given up an incredible 13 runs and 7 homers in only 12 2/3 innings though in his last start against Baltimore he went 7 strong and only allowed 2 earned runs. Nevertheless look for the Yankees to keep raining homeruns down on Beckett’s head.
Yankees Keys to the Series:
- Hughes needs to continue his impressive string of performances and forget about his past appearances against Boston. The Red Sox have knocked Hughes around before but they haven’t face him when he has had his best stuff which he certainly does now.
- Get to the back end of the bullpen. While their top bullpen guys have been performing well, if the Yankees see Ramon Rameriz or Scott Atchinson on the mound chances are they will win the game.
- Mariano needs to come back. Each of these games could be pitcher’s duels and late innings guys will make the difference. While Joba Chamberlain has been pitching well, there is nothing like seeing number 42 come out in the 9th.
The Red Sox have started hitting the ball, their pitching has improved, and the Yankees closer, catcher, and centerfielder are hurt. Despite all that the Yankees still have the edge in the series. I don’t think there will be a sweep either way, the pitching is too good for that. The series hinges on Josh Beckett and AJ Burnett. Despite not pitching well this season, everyone knows Beckett is capable of dominating a game. Burnett, ever the enigma, can be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball or be knocked out of a game in 4 innings. Look for the Yankees to win another series, taking two games from the Red Sox behind strong pitching performances by CC and AJ.