Tonight kicks off what could be the Yanks toughest series of the second half. They’re playing well, 14-4 in the month of August. The Red Sox are no slouches themselves. After being swept by the Yanks they’ve gone 7-3, taking three of four from the Tigers and sweeping the Blue Jays. They did have a rough go with the Rangers last weekend, but on the whole are hitting and pitching well.
The Yanks will end this series either 3.5, 5.5, 7.5, or 9.5 games up on the Sox, so no matter the outcome they’ll still have the upper hand. This one is important for the Sox not only for the division, but for their Wild Card hopes. They’re just a game up on the Rangers and four up on the Rays. The good news for the Sox is that those two teams square off this weekend. If Tampa takes two of three, the Sox could be in decent shape even if they lose two of three themselves.
On the hill for the Sox is Brad Penny. Since the All-Star Break he’s pitched 34 innings, allowing 26 runs, 25 earned. Opponents are OPSing .891 off him. The Yanks will look to take advantage of that in a way they could not when facing Penny earlier in the season. He lasted six innings that time, throwing 117 pitches, but allowing no runs. That was just before the little funk where the Yanks dropped two of three to the Nats, so hopefully we can chalk that one up to a little team slump. They’re better than that.
The Yanks send Andy Pettitte to the hill on six days’ rest, and from what he’s said that’s a good thing. Pettitte has been lights out since the break, tossing 39.2 innings and allowing just 10 runs, nine earned. Even better, his K/BB ratio has been an enormous 43:10, and opponents are OPSing .543 off him. He’s faced the Sox twice this year, struggling the first time, but pitching seven shutout innings on Sunday Night Baseball last time out. Opening up this series with a quality start would be huge.
Yes, Damaso Marte is back with the team, and as expected the Yanks optioned Ramiro Pena. They have their A-lineup in today, so there’s not much need to pinch hit. If they need a pinch runner, Jerry Hairston will suffice. That’s going to be the way for a bit, with just 12 position players. With off-days surrounding this series, and with tomorrow’s game at 4, we might see the A-lineup for all three.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.