7/27-7/29 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

And so we meet again. The Yankees and Red Sox still have a dozen games left to play this season, including nine at Yankee Stadium. The first three of those nine will be played this weekend. The Yankees have won five of six against their greatest historic rival this year.

What Have They Done Lately?

Boston just lost two of three to the Rangers and have lost five of their last six overall. They’re just 8-13 in July and currently sit in last place in the AL East at 49-50. Their +34 run differential is the fifth best in the league and they’re five games out of a wildcard spot.


(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Red Sox can score some runs, ranking third in baseball at 4.90 runs per game. Their team 101 wRC+ rankings eighth in baseball. This series is highlighted by injuries, with Alex Rodriguez (hand) and Nick Swisher (hip) on the shelf for the Yankees while Boston will be without David Ortiz (165 wRC+). He is, by far, their best hitter but will miss the series with an Achilles problem. Excuse me while I go shed a tear.

Cody Ross (126 wRC+) and Will Middlebrooks (123 wRC+) have been the Red Sox’s best hitters among those who are actually healthy, though Adrian Gonzalez is an awful lot better than his 101 wRC+ suggests. Both Jacoby Ellsbury (91 wRC+) and Carl Crawford (38 wRC+) are back from the DL and in their usual outfield spots. Crawford actually gets lifted for defense in the late innings because his elbow is still giving him problems. Dustin Pedroia (91 wRC+) did not play the last time these two clubs met but will be in the lineup this weekend.

Outside of the catcher platoon — Kelly Shoppach (123 wRC+ vs. RHP) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (117 wRC+ vs. LHP) — there isn’t much bite to the rest of the lineup. Mike Aviles (78 wRC+) and Nick Punto (70 wRC+) are awful and Pedro Ciriaco (120 wRC+) is just 11-for-41 (.268) with no walks since crushing the Yankees in Fenway Park a few weeks ago. Daniel Nava (114 wRC+) has cooled down in a big way, ditto Ryan Sweeney (82 wRC+). The Red Sox can score runs in bunches, but Ortiz’s absence is a huge boon for the Yankees.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Aaron Cook
Cook, a 33-year-old sinkerballer, is having a rather fascinating season. He’s made six starts and thrown 36 innings, but he’s struck out just three (!) hitters. That works out to a 0.75 K/9 and a 2.1 K%. Cook’s also walked three hitters while getting a ground ball on 60.6% of his balls in play. That’s like Chien-Ming Wang to the extreme. It’s crazy. Cook throws his upper-80s sinker more than 80% of the time while mixing in a mid-80s slider against righties and a mid-70s curveball against lefties. I’m very curious to see how this goes tonight.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jon Lester
There is no sugarcoating it, Lester has been pretty awful this year. His 4.18 FIP is fine but his 5.46 ERA tells a much different story. Last time out, he surrendered 11 runs and 14 baserunners to the Blue Jays in four innings. It’s ugly. Lester’s strikeout rate (7.48 K/9 and 19.0 K%) is his lowest since 2008 and both his homerun (1.20 HR/9) and ground ball (47.2%) rates are his worst since becoming a full-time big leaguer. His walk rate (2.84 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) is actually right in line with the best years of his career, so at least he has that going for him. Lester will use three low-90s fastballs — four-seamer, sinker, cutter — a mid-80s changeup, and a mid-70s curveball. He did a lot of bullpen work between starts following the disaster against Toronto, so we’ll have to see if he sorted anything out.

Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Felix Doubront
Doubront carried a sub-4.00 ERA into June but has pitched to a 5.29 ERA since. Overall, he owns a 4.54 ERA (4.31 FIP) with a strong strikeout rate (8.83 K/9 and 22.5 K%) but middling walk (3.45 BB/9 and 8.8 BB%) and ground ball (41.7%) rate numbers. He’s quite homer prone (1.35 HR/9) as well. The 24-year-old southpaw goes to work with low-90s two and four-seamers to setup his mid-80s changeup and mid-80s curveball. Right-handers have hit him pretty hard so far this year (.353 wOBA), though he’s done a fine job against the Yankees in two starts (4 ER in 12.2 IP).

Bullpen Status
Both clubs had yesterday off, so their bullpens are fresh. Something tells me they’re going to need them this weekend. The Red Sox own a rock solid 3.11 bullpen ERA (3.54 FIP) and are led by closer Al Aceves (3.67 FIP). Right-hander and noted head-hunter Vicente Padilla (2.59 FIP) sets up from the right side while Andrew Miller (2.76 FIP) gets things done from the left side. Reliever turned starter turned reliever Franklin Morales (3.45 FIP) is the other left-hander in Bobby Valentine’s bullpen. The rest of the bullpen is filled out by righties Matt Albers (5.10 FIP), Mark Melancon (5.64 FIP), and Junichi Tazawa (1.96 FIP). Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the details on the Yankees’ relievers, and check out Over The Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Categories : Series Preview


  1. Paul VuvuZuvella says:

    I am readying for a good olde fashioned Boston Massacrish Bum Kicking!

  2. Eddard says:

    This is a big series to win, at home vs a division rival. The division is over but it’d be nice to see the Sox finish in last place. Our current top 3 starters are going in this series so it’s a good one to win.

    • Laz says:

      Division is not over. 7.5 Game lead over 60 games is doable. They got a good chance to win it, but is not a lock.

      • Eddard says:

        It’s over. Baltimore won’t finish within 10 games of us. Longoria will take some time to get back in the flow of things, the Rays are a .500 club without him. Toronto is in shambles and Boston hasn’t shown any signs of playing consistent ball. 7.5 games is normally doable but not in this case.

        • jjyank says:

          Man this is jinx talk right here. This is baseball, anything can happen. Just ask the 2011 Red Sox and Braves. Also the Mets from a few years ago.

          • Jacob says:

            I know I wish this guy would quit talking like this

          • MannyGeee says:

            Man this is jinx talk right here. This is baseball, anything can happen. Just ask the 2011 Red Sox and Braves. Also the Mets from a few years ago. John Sterling & Suzyn Waldman.

          • Jimmy McNulty says:

            With the Mets you have to factor in a certain amount of inherent failure. The Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals from 2011 are a good “anything can happen” example, as are the 95 Angels. The Mets? Nope. That’s part of being The Mets.

            That said, I completely disagree with Eddard here, and fully believe that the Yankees need a sweep to bury their rivals and set themselves up with a 62-39 record with 61 left to play. If they sweep this weekend they not only bury the Red Sox but basically they’ll just need to go 33-28 to lock up the division over the August and September. That’s about 16 wins a month which is pretty doable.

    • Jacob says:

      You are absolutely ridiculous

  3. jjyank says:


  4. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    No matter how badly the RS have looked so far, they always bring out their best effort against us and I would not take them for granted. Of course, being without Yankee killer David Ortiz makes it less difficult for our pitchers to face them. All in all, I expect a good hard-fought series and expect us to come out the victors.

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    We’re going to untuck, whip it out, and piss on them after we’re done with them. You heard it here first.

  6. Get Phelps Up says:

    Sweep this series.

    Make them go on an all out firesale.

  7. Brian S. says:

    I’m getting nervous over all the Carl Crawford trade talk. They cannot be able to trade him, that would be the worst thing ever.

    • Jimmy McNulty says:

      Well they’ll have to eat well over half of the contract. He’s owed well over 100M on his deal, so they’ll have to subsidize 60ish million dollars and take a non-prospect in return…I’m okay with that happening.

      • Brian S. says:

        NOOOOOOOOO. They need to keep him since he sucks and will also need surgery that will keep him out for a year.

        • Jimmy McNulty says:

          Well if he sucks no one’s going to pay for him. The move will be a complete salary dump and they’ll probably have to eat 70-80M since I forgot how bad he was last year and I forgot about the wrist surgery. There’s the off chance that the wrist surgery will help him, and he may do better playing for an NL team. So if they trade him they’re still likely in a bad spot.

          • Brian S. says:

            It’s elbow surgery I think. Apparently he is going to need Tommy John surgery or some shit. At least I read that on fangraphs somewhere so it must be true.

            • Jimmy McNulty says:

              If he needs TJS then he’s not getting traded unless the Red Sox eat at least 70M of the remaining salary, that’s an unprecedented amount of salary to eat.

            • Mandy Stankiewicz says:

              “Crawford was 0 for 3 before leaving the game for defensive reasons in the sixth. Valentine did not want to chance him “coming out of his shoes” making a throw in a close game because Crawford is playing with a partially torn elbow ligament.”
              Boston globe 7/25

  8. viridiana says:

    Not sure Red Sox are really Yanks’ “greatest historic rival.”
    That’s recently true and that’s the myth of Selig’s divisional rivals set-up. But it was Hank Greenberg’s Tigers who were the Yankees’ most significant (and succesful) rivals in the 30s and early 40s. The Indians were the Yankees’ most powerful rivals in the early 50s. Bu the mid- and late-50s, the White Sox were also potent arch-rivals. And in the 60s several great Tiger teams led by Al Kaline, Norm Cash and Mickely Lolich were the key challengers. One of the most annoying aspects of the unbalanced schedule is how it force-feeds 18 or 19 games a year with Boston while the Yankees only rarely get to play the Tigers, Indians and White Sox.

    • steve (different one) says:

      The Royals in the late 70′s/early 80′s…though obviously the Sox were there as well at times.

      • Brian S. says:

        Orioles in the 90′s, Jays in the 80′s right? Just looking at baseball-reference.

        • viridiana says:

          Yup. Them too. The Birds were really good for a long time — beginning in the mid 60s or so. Of course, the Yanks were pretty bad during some of those years. I will grant the Red Sox one point in claim to “greatest historic rivals.” They have certainly been the most hateful rivals– and the first that has actually had an ownership group that has encouraged hsateful tendencies in the fan base.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      From 1946 to 1951, Boston finished no worse than 3rd, winning it in 46, and finishing 2nd in ’47, ’48 (losing a one game play-off to the Indians) & ’49.

      In ’49, Yanks were up by 2 w/ 8 to play, then got swept by the Sux. Boston came into Yankee Stadium up by 1 w/ 2 to play and lost both.

      Then there was the whole 1978 thing, not to mention 2003, so yeah, I don’t think it is a stretch to call them the greatest historic rival.

      • viridiana says:

        Detroit Tigers won four pennants during Yankee dynasty ears of 1935-45. They were key rivals in early 60s. Their 1961 squad battled the vaunted Mantle-Maris team into Spetember. Then they won in 68 and 84. On top of all that they have beaten Yanks twice in playoffs in recent years. No way Boston has exclusive claim as top historic rivals.

        • not that mike says:

          The Yankee Boston thing is deeper than just the series played – the genesis for the Yanks rise in the 1920′s was on the backs of players bought from the Red Sox ( not even including Ruth), and Williams and Dimaggio had a rivalry built on talent as the best hitters in the league with the stat vs. winner narritive to power the newspapers throughout the mid 1930′s through the 1940′s- especially since Williams and the press hated eachother, so he received less glamorous press from Boston than would othewrwise be expected. Add to that Dimaggios playing for both teams, McCarthy managing for both teams, crazy pennant races, Reynolds No-hitter with Williams being the last out….the pre-1950′s rivalry was non-stop, and that built the foundation for its re-kindling in the 1970′s with Fisk/Munson/Lyle/Lee/Nettles etc

          • Sweet Dick Willie says:

            especially since Williams and the press hated eachother,

            That is an understatement.

            Teddy Ballgame batted .406 in 1941, and won the Triple Crown in ’42 and ’47, and didn’t win the MVP in any of those years (although he did win it in ’46 & ’49).

        • gc says:

          Agreed. Historically speaking, the Yankees are 182 games over .500 against Boston all-time. Against the Tigers, only 117 games over. For a glimpse at some more realistic baseball rivalries, look at Cubs/Cardinals (Cubs 42 games up), and the best of them all, Giants/Dodgers (Giants 24 games up).

  9. Yank The Frank says:

    Finish them.

  10. Jacob says:

    0.75 K/9 for Cook? He is going to strike out about 7 Yanks tonight.

  11. Anthony says:

    No Ortiz in their lineup will make these games significantly less stressful. Time for a spanking!

    • not that mike says:

      Frankly, its no secret he is the entire glue to their offense, and all the more reason I wish Cash would have thrown a 2/40mm contract at him last offseason….he would be a monster at the stadium, is a better DH than Jeter/Arod or anyone else needing a “rest” and his loss would have crippled the Sox/…or murdered their payoll

      • BK2ATL says:

        So bring in an old masher who’s only position is DH, knowing full well that you MUST rest your aging leftside of the infield and DH them every now and then during this 162 game season, and then pay such masher $20 million AAV???

        You premise is based on one opponent and 81 games at YS3….

        Not sure you spend $20 million AAV on that, but I might be wrong.

  12. Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost says:

    I’m really sad that I won’t have to watch Big Fatti lumber up to the plate, spit in his gloves like a dirtbag, and pose if he hits a home run like he just won the world series.

    I’m also really sad Beckett isn’t going to be there to throw at the Yankees four times a game.

    • Brian S. says:

      Don’t worry. The Mariners will throw at us enough times in a week to make up for lost beanings this series.

  13. MannyGeee says:

    I am already completely bummed out about tonight… Hughes is well overdue for a clunker.

    That said, I could see him going 8IP, 2H, 0ER just as easily as I can see him going 4IP, 6ER…


  14. Jacob says:

    So who is everyone’s most hated Red Sock on the current team?

    I despise Ortiz with a passion,

    • Brian S. says:

      Dustin Pedroia. The fact that he has a 91 wRC+ gives me a schadengasm.

    • doug says:

      Beckett and it’s not close.

    • Get Phelps Up says:

      Ortiz and Pedroia by far.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Pedroia, Lackey, maybe Beckett. Salty from the new batch. Padilla, but not because of the Sox at all. That’s about it.

    • viridiana says:

      When Ortiz’ name was leaked as one of those who’d failed steriods test, he bleated in protest, vowing to investigate and “get to the bottom of this.” Funny, but we’ve never heard any more about it. Ultra phony.

    • krazziness says:

      Beckett – so easily Beckett!

    • BK2ATL says:

      I actually don’t despise Ortiz. Like Pedro, I’ve only grown to respect him. Dude just hits us, no matter if it’s Mariano Rivera or CC. And in the clutch, it frightens me to watch us pitching to him. He does things offensively that I wish our guys would do.

      With Paplepuke, Youk and Varitek gone, the list goes as such

      Bobby V

      7 douches, nonetheless.

      • RocketMan86 says:

        Ortiz, easily. Deserves none of his accolades. Cheater, liar, phony and jerk that doesn’t respect the game with his words or deeds.

        How any Yankee fan excuses Ortiz epic villainy puzzles me? The guy is still a beloved star and legend despite being a phony and jerk in every possible way. The same with Pedro hate that guy so intensely.

        My top five would be-

        1. Ortiz
        2. Pedro
        3. Schilling
        4. Manny
        5. Becket
        6. Millar
        7. Papelbon
        8. Youk
        9. Lowe

    • MannyGeee says:

      Interestingly enough, the only one of the old batch I dont hate is Ortiz. In part because he’s told Red Sox FO to pound and put the team on blast on the reg…

      Oh, and Ace still gets a pass from me.

      I am going with Beckett to top the list though. complete douche.. but the rest can go suck it.

    • steve (different one) says:

      Anyone who doesn’t say Josh Beckett is simply incorrect. And I realize this is an opinion question. Still, your opinion is wrong. The answer is Beckett.

    • Randi says:

      Even the Boston fans hate Beckett.

  15. Kramerica Industries says:

    I have a poor feeling about this series as a whole, given how well the Red Sox play in the Bronx.

    Winning the middle game *should* be a given, if for no other reason than it’s Mr. Sabathia that day. If they could split the other two (preferably, winning tonight to allow for a potential sweep), I would be fairly content.

    Boston is 10.5 back. They’ve middled at .500 all year. They aren’t that great a team. The bigger objective here is to do what’s best in the Yankees interests – win series’.

    I don’t want to see the Yankees allow for false hope to creep into the Red Sox and their fans once Monday morning rolls around. That’s not good for anybody.

  16. Jacob says:

    Mike losing track of time again?

  17. FIPster Doofus says:

    “His 4.18 FIP is fine”

    Not for a front-line starter.

  18. Gonzo says:

    Did anyone see that Deadspin article about how Aaron Cook is basically debunking sabermetrics because of his low strikeout total in 30+ innings?

    It’s worth it for the laugh.

  19. The Real Greg says:

    One rule for this series.

    Don’t get swept.

  20. Preston says:

    Boston is under .500 and we are approaching the trade dead-line. A sweep might convince them to be last minute sellers.

  21. The Real Greg says:

    The thing is, without Ortiz, the Red Sox have very little left handed power. Ellsbury has hit only 1 home run this year, AGon has 9 homers and Crawford and Nava have also struggled with power. All their power is coming from the right side which is also the toughest place to hit homers in this ballpark.

    Just something to consider.

    • The Real Greg says:

      Their only real homer threat from the left is Salty, who has hit 18 as a lefty and only 1 as a righty.

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