Yankees vs. Red Sox: Round One

The New York Yankees next series, one which was shortened due to rain, is their first meeting with the Boston Red Sox in 2017.

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Round One

The Yanks are up at Fenway Park for what is far from just another April series. Rather, the Yankees have a chance to make a statement in this two-game set.

The Yankees, without Gary Sanchez, who is considered by many to be their best hitter, are looking to show their bitter rivals, as well as the rest of the league, that they can contend while their youngsters are just beginning to get their feet wet.

For the record, a series won or lost in April likely won’t have an impact on the season as a whole; but a win in this series could give the Yankees even more momentum than they already have.

The Importance of April

Last season, as a team full of bloated contracts and “past their prime” stars, the Yankees underperformed and found themselves at 8-15 on May 1. They finished just five games back of the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for the Wild Card spot, even after being sellers at the trade deadline.

This season, the Yanks stumbled out of the gate to a 2-4 record; but they then rattled off an 8-1 home-stand. After a tough series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, they now sit at 11-7.

This series, between the third-place Red Sox and second-place Yankees, is an early test of whether the Bronx Bombers are capable of being contenders this season, or will inevitably be shown to be nothing more than pretenders.

Pitching Matchup

After a rain-out of Tuesday’s game one, which was supposed to be the match-up between Luis Severino and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, the two starters will match-up on Wednesday evening. Game two of the series, on Thursday night, is set to be a duel between Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Sale.

The Yankees bullpen is rested after an off-day, as well as an unofficial one due to the postponed game on Tuesday. Boston is coming off the same rest after their series loss in Baltimore this past weekend.

The Hitters

Starlin Castro and Chase Headley are off to scorching starts to the season, and slugger Aaron Judge has been hitting the ball well, as of late. The slumps of Brett Gardner and Greg Bird have worked to counteract them to some degree, but with a lefty going in game two for Boston, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Joe Girardi give them both the day off.

Austin Romine has filled in quite well for Sanchez, both behind the plate and in the batter’s box, and Ronald Torreyes has been swinging a rather hot bat as well, even if it seems, at times, that he simply refuses to take the first pitch.

Matt Holliday has one big hit to his name, but aside from that and a slew of walks he has yet to impress. Jacoby Ellsbury, who is off to what might be his best April as a member of the Yankees, is likely to get amped up for this series against his former team, and fourth outfielder Aaron Hicks will almost definitely see some action during this series – either at designated hitter or in the outfield as a substitute for Gardner.

As for Boston, their young core of Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts are all off to good starts to the 2017 season. Veterans Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Dustin Pedroia are all having rather lackluster seasons, but they can’t be counted out in rivalry games that tend to mean more than just normal games.

The Red Sox mixture of a young core and more experienced, savvy veterans is certainly more talented than the Yankees lineup right now; but this is due in large part to the fact that the Yanks are retooling and Boston is contending for a World Series.

Key Players

The Yankees to watch for this series, aside from their starting pitchers, are Romine and Ellsbury.

Romine’s largest impact will be felt behind the plate. He has to work to keep Severino, who is coming off two rather impressive starts (albeit one a win and the other a loss), in a rhythm, and to prevent the wheels from falling off for the Yankees relievers, who are prone to getting themselves into trouble.

Ellsbury, who has seen time in the clean-up spot this season, will play a large role both on and off the field this series. On the field, he has to continue getting on base to set the table for Headley, Castro, and the middle of the order. Off the field, he will be able to impart onto the Baby Bombers how important these games really are, no matter when they are being played.

For the home team, the players to watch are Benintendi and Pedroia.

Benintendi, the top Red Sox prospect, is off to a hot start this season. He’s entering the series batting .361 with a .427 on-base percentage. Benintendi is showing the baseball world that his performance over the course of just 34 games in 2016 was far from a fluke, and that he might be bound for stardom.

Pedroia, who was in the news recently for being spiked by Orioles star Manny Machado, has been off to a slow start this year. The 33-year-old second baseman is batting just .258, but has typically been the team’s spiritual leader.

With the Red Sox young stars on the rise, a player like Pedroia means more than just his on-field performance. He’s been through countless Yankees-Red Sox games, including many with much greater importance, which means he’ll be able to take the lead and show the youngsters just how much this rivalry means to the fans and the organization as a whole.


In a series which has more meaning in the clubhouses than in the standings, the two teams will likely split this two-game set.

A two game sweep, while clearly less meaningful than a full three games, would still serve to provide a slight morale boost in either clubhouse, especially with both teams having something to prove this season.

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