The Yanks roll into Fenway with some unfinished business. They stand at 31 games over .500 for the year (76-45) but have yet to win a game in Fenway (0-6). The pitching match ups are favorable, with Andy Pettitte going against Brad Penny tonight, AJ Burnett facing Junichi Tazawa on Saturday and the red hot CC Sabathia facing Josh Beckett coming off his 2nd worst outing of the year. His worst outing was April 16th against our beloved Yankees, which Yankee fans will remember as the game where AJ Bunett couldn’t hold a 6-0 lead.
Yanks-Sox is always fun, but the extensive lead (6.5 games) the Yanks currently enjoy will put something of a damper on the series. The worst case scenario has the Yanks still enjoying a comfortable lead, and the more likely scenario of a split means little either way for both teams. Pressure is squarely on the Sox to get a sweep and get back in the division race, and they just don’t have the pitchers lined up to make that realistic. Give credit to Girardi here, I’m sure he factored in who will go in Fenway when figuring out where Joba, Gaudin and Mitre would pitch.
The Yanks are in a position to bury the Sox in the division, and possibly in the playoffs as well. The Red Sox are currently only 1 game ahead of the Texas Rangers for the Wild Card and 4 ahead of the Rays. A sweep by the Yanks and a good weekend by either the Rangers or the Rays would change the wild card race. Fortunately for the Sox, the Rangers are playing the Rays in Tampa this weekend so the damage should be minimal. The Rays are 40-20 at home (Tied for 2nd best with DET) and the Rangers are 27-28 on the road, but 3-0 vs the Rays this year. A Ranger sweep on top of a Yankee sweep in Fenway would be very tough for Boston as a town and a team to handle.
Just to illustrate how dramatically things can change this weekend, lets look at a few scenarios. If we can assume a Yankee sweep, here’s how the standings would look if the Rangers sweep the Rays or the Rays sweep the Rangers:
Current Wild Card standings:
If Rays sweep Rangers:
TEX 68-55 (1 game back)
TAM 68-55 (1 game back)
If Rangers win 2 of 3:
BOS 69-54 (1 game back)
TAM 66-57 (4 games back)
So in any case, if the Yanks sweep the Sox things could get very interesting for the Wild Card race.