Going from being in first place for over 70 days into danger of the dropping out of the second Wild Card spot, the season has come down to the wire for the Boston Red Sox. With nine games left in the season, Boston holds a two-game lead over the New York Yankees for the top spot in the Wild Card standings. Behind New York, the Toronto Blue Jays are only half a game out of the playoffs with Oakland and Seattle still within striking distance.
With so many teams still in the race, Boston has a small margin of error and cannot afford to throw away any games at this point. Luckily, the Red Sox are carrying a seven-game win-streak and their final six games are against last place teams in Baltimore and Washington. Additionally, the Yankees will end their season against AL opponents Toronto and Tampa Bay.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? It’s very likely that Tampa may take it easy on their pitching if they clinch the division early. This means no one should count on the Yankees losing the series. Toronto themselves also have a fairly easy schedule. The Blue Jays will also face Baltimore and they too face a last place team in the Minnesota Twins.
That’s why the weekend series against the Yankees is so important. There are no guarantees in the final weekend. When Boston had their epic collapse in 2011, who did lose to in the final game of the season? Last place Orioles. Who did the Rays beat to clinch the Wild Card that year? The (already clinched) Yankees.
Pivotal Series Against New York
The first game of the series, each team is sending out their All-Star. Nate Eovaldi will face-off against Gerrit Cole. After that, the Sox have Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez going. Each guy wants a spot in a potential playoff rotation, but it’s safe to assume that both will have a short leash. Yes the Sox don’t want to ruin the staff for the final six games, but losing the series to New York might mean having to win at least five of six games to secure the playoffs. Even against two last place teams, no one wants that kind of pressure.
That first game will really set the tone for the series. New York has Nestor Cortes and Jordan Montgomery slated to pitch. Both own ERAs under 4.00. If Eovaldi can give Boston a solid start, they will be in a great position to win the series.
Ever since New York snapped their 13-game win streak, they have not been the same team. They are currently 10-11 during the month of September, though they just swept the Texas Rangers. It’s not too often Boston and New York face each other this late with playoff implications on the line. Come Monday, the standings for the Wild Card could look vastly different.