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One of the great rivalries in baseball gets renewed on Friday night when the New York Yankees travel to Fenway Park to begin a series with the Boston Red Sox. These teams met in the Bronx last weekend with the Red Sox winning two of the three games despite both teams finishing the series with exactly seven runs. With both teams far behind the Rays in the AL East and hoping to land one of the spots in a crowded Wild Card race, every Yankees-Red Sox has great importance in the standings, not just in the history of this rivalry.
After losing two of three games last weekend, the Yankees split a two-game set with the Mets earlier this week, continuing their up-and-down season. The Bronx Bombers are just 5-6 in the month of June, although that’s been good enough to keep them nine games over .500. The other silver lining is the Yankees would earn one of the three Wild Card spots in the American League if the season ended today. However, teams like the Blue Jays and Angels aren’t far behind, so the Yanks don’t have much margin for error.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are hoping to use this series to inch closer to New York in the Wild Card standings. Despite taking last weekend’s series from the Yankees, Boston lost two of three against the Rockies earlier this week. That dropped the Red Sox back below .500, leaving them five games behind the Yankees for the final Wild Card spot. Given how crowded the Wild Card race is, if the Red Sox don’t make some headway soon, they might become sellers at the trade deadline rather than making an honest run at the postseason, making games like this critical.
On the road, the Yankees are the slightest of favorites on Friday, although both teams have a moneyline of -110. There is also an over/under of 9.5 runs for Friday’s series opener at Fenway Park.
It’ll be Tanner Houck getting the start for the Red Sox on Friday night. Houck took the loss in last Saturday’s game against the Yankees, although he put forth a solid effort, lasting six innings and giving up just two runs on three hits. Despite looking better in that outing, Houck is just 3-6 with a 5.23 ERA this season. The Red Sox are hopeful that last week’s start is a sign that Houck is starting to turn things around after a problematic month of May in which he posted a 6.08 ERA. Even worse, the Red Sox have lost the last six games that Houck has started.
Based on that recent track record, Boston’s lineup will have to step up and score some runs on Friday. The Red Sox have scored six runs in back-to-back games, so Boston’s bats might be starting to heat up. However, that came against Colorado’s pitching staff. It also came on the heels of six straight games in which the Red Sox were held to three runs or less. Hitting for power has been a problem all year with Rafael Devers being the only player with more than eight homers. Plus, outside of Devers, Justin Turner, and Jarren Duran, everyone in Boston’s lineup appears to be in a slump right now, so the Red Sox don’t have much depth in their lineup at the moment.
For the second time in less than a week, the Yankees will send Domingo German to the mound to face the Red Sox. German held Boston to one run on six hits over six innings last Saturday, improving his record to 4-3. Over his last two starts, German has allowed just two runs over 12.2 innings, dropping his ERA to 3.49. On top of that, the Yankees have won five of the last six games he’s started, so he’s becoming a good-luck charm for them. Just for good measure, the Yankees have the best bullpen in baseball pitching behind German. With an off day on Thursday, that bullpen will be fresh and ready to go on Friday.
Of course, the Yankees may need top-notch pitching in order to win Friday. As mentioned, they scored just seven total runs against the Red Sox last weekend and are averaging just 3.4 runs per game over their last eight games. Needless to say, they are feeling the absence of Aaron Judge. Don’t forget that Harrison Bader is also on the IL, limiting New York’s options in the outfield. Billy McKinney and Anthony Volpe have actually come up with some big hits recently while the likes of Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo have all gone cold over the last week. However, seeing Houck for the second time in less than a week should help. With German and a fresh bullpen, the Yankees should have enough to eke out a close win on Friday night.
For two teams that combined for 14 runs over three games last weekend, an over/under of 9.5 runs seems like a lot. To be fair, the Red Sox hit the over 55% of the time and 63% of the time at home. On the other hand, the Yankees hit the under 45% of the time. With both teams struggling to find consistency offensively and both teams having a fresh bullpen after an off day on Thursday, each team could have trouble finding much success offensively, especially with German on the mound for the Yankees and Houck looking good in his last start. These figures to be another low-scoring affair that ends with fewer than 9.5 total runs.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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