The Boston Red Sox may be 7-8 against their hated rival New York Yankees this season, but make no mistake; Boston is winning the 2017 season series from a longer standpoint, at least at this stage of the game.
The fact of the matter is that in the second half, the Red Sox have taken the games that count while New York just can’t shut the door in games that should be won. Boston has the advantage in the momentum department right now to go with a five-game lead in the AL East Division and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Even if there are still four games left to play between these two teams, it’s just hard to see the Red Sox stumbling to where they lose first place.
To give a better idea of how great Boston has looked against New York, especially in the second half, one need look no further than the circumstances of the team’s recent wins against the Bronx Bombers. Of the 10 contests against the Yankees since the All-Star break, three Red Sox wins have come due to New York’s bullpen proving unable to hold a lead.
Enter Boston’s bats, who rank ninth in runs scored and fifth in batting average with a mark of .263. This team doesn’t hit a lot of home runs, but the base hits come when they count and there is nothing any opposing bullpen can do to combat clutch bats on a hot streak.
Breakout rookie Rafael Devers has also had New York’s number since making his major league debut on July 25 and, on top of hitting .350 since his promotion, has put up even greater numbers against his team’s AL East rival.
Devers is batting .364 with three home runs and six RBI against the Yankees with an eye-popping OPS of 1.209.
It doesn’t even matter that ace Chris Sale has yet to notch a win against New York this season. The rest of the team is picking up the slack just fine and doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all.
New York blues
In defense of the Yankees’ inconsistent play for the better part of the summer, the AL East crown is still within reach. There’s still over a month of baseball left to play before the playoffs start, so a five-game hole is not insurmountable.
In spite of that, plus how hard they make the Red Sox work whenever both teams play each other, the Yankees are probably better off playing to maintain their lead in the AL Wild Card race. The offense has stalled to where Aaron Judge is looking more like Adam Dunn now compared to the Bryce Harper-esque numbers he posted in the first half. What were once at-bats of anticipation have become instances of either striking out or hitting a home run, with no in between.
It also hurts that the rest of New York’s offense aside from Judge appears to have stalled recently, with catcher Gary Sanchez seeming to be the lone source of power. Baseball is a team game and if the lineup is being carried by just one individual, even if the lineup is loaded with talented hitters, then picking up wins will be a tough task.
New York’s bullpen is not blameless in this either. Between Dellin Betances’ rough June and July and Aroldis Chapman struggling to where he was removed as the team’s closer over the weekend, New York’s bullpen is responsible for 13 losses since mid-June. For a team that prides itself on having a strong bullpen that is unacceptable.
Throw in the injury bug that has plagued key players in Starlin Castro and Greg Bird, though both could return to the lineup soon, and it’s no wonder that the Yankees have struggled like they have.
Nobody in New York wants to admit it, but the AL East is Boston’s this year and the Bronx Bombers should strategize accordingly.
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