Two down, ten to go. The Yankees have won two of the 12 necessary to hoist their 28th World Series banner and to keep that going, they’ll need to win two of the next three games against their biggest rival, who are in the midst of a historic season. No biggie. The task ahead of them is clear and, based on games one and two, so is the way to accomplish it.
In the first game of the series, Chris Sale pitched well and made it into the sixth inning. JA Happ did not. In the second game of the series, Masahiro Tanaka pitched well and completed five innings. David Price did not. While the Yankees scored against the Boston bullpen in game one, the comeback was halted and incomplete because of Sale’s performance; it’s harder to come back when you’re starting from zero, right?
The Yankee bullpen is superior to the Red Sox’s, but a rest day resets things, even if Boston had to get so many outs from their relievers last night. That makes it all the more imperative that Luis Severino in game three and CC Sabathia in game four make it through five innings, at least keeping the score close. Boston has a great offense and they’re likely to score, even against someone as talented as Severino and as competitive and crafty as Sabathia. If they keep the score close, the Yankees can take advantage of Boston’s bullpen.
Ideally, they’ll keep Boston down enough that the Yankee offense can grab the lead against Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi. If that’s the case, then the Yankees can lean on their superior bullpen to finish the job off in the late innings. If it’s not the case, then Sevy and CC need to hold them down enough to allow for the comeback to start against the non-Craig Kimbrel relievers Boston throws at them.
On the other side of the game, the offense will have to do what it’s built to do, what so heavily signified the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry for so many years: wear down the starter and get to the bullpen. The Yankees have long been built on patience and power, the two things that wear pitchers down the fastest. This team is not so different from that and escaping into the Sox’s bullpen is their primary objective (after, you know, scoring runs); doing so will make victory that much easier to attain. And the quick trigger most managers have in the playoffs combined with the potential power of the Yankee offense makes this goal pretty manageable.
Getting good starting pitching and getting to the other team’s bullpen is hardly some galaxy brain strategy. It’s pretty simple baseball and it’s what good teams have been doing for over 20 years. While it sometimes has mixed results in the playoffs, it’s the way the Yankees are built and going away from it could be unproductive, especially at this point in the year. With the next two games at home, the Yankees have a chance to knock off their rival in a big way in a big year for Boston. Hopefully, the next time I’m writing, it’ll be about how to take down Cleveland or Houston.