Friday, April 11, 2008

Let's Get Ready To Rumble

It's that time of year again. Round 1 of what is by far the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Red Sox vs. Yankees. I'll admit it. For me, this rivalry isn't what it once was. The peak of the rivalry was 2003-2004. Boone's HR and the great Yankee collapse. Since then it's become a little watered down and slightly on the boring side. It seems like they play way too much and way too often. They haven't met in the playoffs since 2004 so there have been no do or die meetings between the two. The fire for the rivalry still burns. It's just not as hot. The Red Sox were definitely the better team last year. Every expert also favors them this year as well. I like being the underdog. The roles are reversed and I like it.

The pitching matchups for the series are as follows:

Game 1: Chien-Ming Wang (2-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (0-1, 5.40 ERA)

The Yankees have never faced Buchholz before and the Yankees typically struggle with pitchers they've never faced before. Considering this season's struggles at the plate, this might be a tough one. Wang has fared well against Boston in his career. He's 3-1 with a 4.11 ERA in 5 career starts against the Sox. He's made 2 starts at Fenway, where he's 1-1 with an ERA of 6.35. Wang's numbers in Fenway aren't great, but baseball isn't played on paper. He's off to a great start so far and the Yankees will likely need another solid outing from their ace.

Game 2: Mike Mussina (1-1, 3.09 ERA) vs Josh Beckett (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

This game is a total question mark. Which version of each pitcher will show up? Moose has done well so far but we saw this from him last year. He'd have a string of good outings followed by a string of poor ones. Moose has done pretty well in his career vs. Boston. He's 19-15 with an ERA of 3.66 in 52 career starts. Different times, different teams, different Moose. So who knows? Beckett's spring was cut short by back problems and that might cause problems for the Sox ace. The weather forecast for Saturday is a high of 49 and showers. It's not ideal weather for either but I think it would have more of an impact on Beckett than it would Mussina. Beckett's first start was in a temperature controlled climate (Rogers Centre in Toronto). He hasn't been subjected to the elements yet. It could bring up more back problems if he's not fully recovered. The Yankees have also been able to hit Beckett. The old Yankee killer ain't what he used to be. Beckett has a career ERA of 6.56 against the Yankees. His career WHIP against them is 1.74 with an OBA of .303. Not too shabby. But again, the games aren't played on paper.

Game 3: Phil Hughes (0-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0, 1.47 ERA)

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. This will be the Sox first look at Hughes. He's been inconsistent in his first 2 starts this year. It works in his favor that the Sox have never gotten a firsthand look at him. It often takes a few at-bats for a hitter to adjust to a pitcher they've never faced. Hughes has good stuff so he just might give the Sox bats fits. I thought the same about Chase Wright and we all know how that went. I'm still not sold on Dice-K. He may be off to a good start but I don't think he's all he's cracked up to be (see Hideo Nomo or Hideki Irabu). He faced the Yankees 4 times last year. His ERA against them was high but the Yankees didn't exactly knock him around. His biggest problem when he faced them was issuing too many free passes. The Yankees haven't exactly been patient at the plate thus far and that might remediate any control problems Dice-K runs into.

It has the making of a great series. Neither team has been exactly knocking the cover off the ball. Both teams are 5-5 and coming off a win. The Sox will be a little more fresh as they avoid having to travel for the series. The weather doesn't look favorable for Friday and Saturday as rain is in the forecast. Sunday's weather looks a little better but it's a night game and it could get chilly. I always think that the Sox will take 2 of 3 at home, and vice-versa when the games are in New York. I think the Yankees win Saturday. The Sox win Sunday. And tonight's game is a toss-up. I give a slight edge to the Sox because their at home, didn't travel, and the Yankees lackluster offense will probably struggle against a starter they've never faced.

Be back later with pre-game thoughts.



Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmm. Very optimistic for a team that almost got swept up in KC.

Sox kicked the Detroit cat hard last night and are well rested and primed up for a sweep.


J-Boogie said...

Predicting 1 win is optimistic? If anything, predicting a sweep is optimistic. The Yankees pitching has done very well so far and the Sox offense hasn;t exactly been tearing the cover off the ball. There's a big difference between the Tigers bullpen and the Yankees bullpen.

It'll be interesting but I definitely don's think the Sox will sweep.

I appreciate the comment.