Rivalry Resumes This Weekend

After sweeping the Yankees at Fenway Park last weekend, the Red Sox look to break out the brooms again when baseball’s most storied rivalry resumes this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

The divisional foes are heading in opposite directions as they begin their second series of the seasonRivalry Resumes This Weekend. The Sox have surged into first place with their recent hot streak, winning nine of their past 11 to overtake Baltimore at the top of the AL East. The slumping Yankees, meanwhile, are languishing in last place, seven games back of Boston.

Pitching Matchups Favor Sox

Boston looks to keep rolling when the rivalry resumes this weekend behind Rick Porcello, who’s pitching like an ace these days. Porcello is off to a 5-0 start and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13 2/3 innings, the last seven of which came in Saturday’s 8-0 rout of the Bombers. His opponent, Michael Pineda, will have to be more efficient with his pitches to win their rematch; Pineda needed 106 pitches to get through five innings last time and has yet to go past the sixth this year.

Saturday’s matinee features a frustratingly inconsistent duo in David Price and Nathan Eovaldi, both of whom can be dominant when they’re on but have been terrible when they’re not.  Price, for instance, leads the league in strikeouts and earned runs—a rare combination. Eovaldi has also been up and down, averaging over a strikeout per inning but carrying a 5.46 ERA. Both struggled in their most recent duel, allowing six runs apiece in Sunday’s slugfest. If both bring their best stuff, however, the final score will be 2-1 instead of 8-7.

Sunday’s series finale could go either way, with Steven Wright on the hill for Boston against New York’s Luis Severino. Wright has been a revelation with a 1.67 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in five starts this year, but like all knuckleballers he’s completely unpredictable. The same could be said of Severino, who has a 6.31 ERA this year but posted a 2.89 ERA last year. The last time either appeared in a Yankees-Sox game was last August, when Severino made his major league debut against Wright at The Stadium. Both were fantastic, allowing only one run each as Boston edged New York 2-1, so their rematch certainly has pitching duel potential.

Another Sweep?

Based on pitching matchups and recent results, Boston should be favorites in every game. The Red Sox have their top three starters going this series, while the Yankees will be without their two best (Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia). Both Porcello and Wright have outperformed their respective counterparts by a wide margin this year, while Price is a good bet to bounce back. None of them are expected to face much resistance from a Yankees lineup that ranks last in the AL in runs and just lost Alex Rodriguez to the DL.

Predicting a sweep is always risky given the sheer randomness of baseball, but don’t be surprised if Boston sweeps their arch-nemesis again when the rivalry resumes this weekend.

Daniel Nava Proving His Worth for the Red Sox

Daniel Nava

After much was made about which of Boston’s plethora of outfielders would make the Opening Day roster during Spring Training, Daniel Nava has wasted little time showing how much value he has for the Red Sox despite playing in a bench role.

The 32-year old Redwood City, CA native played a key role in the Red SDaniel Navaox victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night, going 2 for 3 with two runs batted in. Nava laced a 98-MPH Nathan Eovaldi fastball into right field for a single in the top of the fourth, then lined a change-up that ricocheted off Mark Teixeira’s glove, allowing Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli to score in the top of the sixth.

The 19-inning marathon contest lasted six hours and 49 minutes, and included a 16-minute delay to fix malfunctioning light towers near the foul poles caused by a power surge. The game was the longest in terms of time in Red Sox history, despite playing a 20-inning contest against the Yankees in August of 1967.

Nava continued his success against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon, not even 12 hours after the conclusion of Friday night’s contest, again going 2 for 3 with two runs batted in, a walk and a run scored.

With two outs and Mike Napoli on third base in the top of the second, Nava hit a ball into left field that was badly misplayed by Yankee’s outfielder Brett Gardner, which allowed Napoli to score and Nava to cruise into second base with a double. He added another RBI single in the top of the fourth, lining an Adam Warren fastball to center field scoring Pablo Sandoval.

In his career against the Yankees, Nava is hitting .308/.410/.523 with a .933 OPS and eight extra base hits, 15 runs batted in and 10 walks in 65 at-bats. Nava has home runs against three of the Yankee’s starting pitchers—C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Saturday’s starter, Adam Warren.

Pineda in a Sticky Mess; Pine Tar Part Two

pineada pine tar

Last night at Fenway Park, John Lackey rebounded from a pair of rough starts, holding the New York Yankees to one run and seven hits, while striking out 11, Lackey did not walk a batter in eight strong innings, and the only runs he needed were scored in the first inning as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-1. Despite getting the win, there was more focus on the losing pitcher, Michael Pineda.  The 22 year old pitcher somehow thought nobody would notice the massive pine tar smear under his right ear, which he used to doctor the ball. Well, the Red Sox noticed, and when home plate umpire Gerry Davis went out to the mound in the bottom of the second, he opined that Pineda would be hitting the showers early.

Now, it’s one thing for your opponent to notice it.  It’s mind-boggling, though, that everybody on the Yankees missed it, especially in light of allegations that Pineda had pine tar smeared on the palm of his pitching hand the last time he faced the Red Sox, on April 10 at Yankee Stadium. Pineda’s blatant disregard of rule 8.02 (Using a foreign substance on the baseball is a violation of Major League Baseball) is certain to get him suspended this time for ten games (or two starts.)

NOTES: Various media outlets reported that Pineda was near tears in the clubhouse after that game. It is unclear whether he was emotional or crying due to the fact that his jersey had become affixed to his body because of the pine-tar and had to be ripped off…Pineda, who has limited English, was quoted as saying “Baseball been very, very good to me. Pine tar, not so much”…Pineda is a huge college basketball fan, and tries to watch as many UNC Tar Heel games as possible…While the young pitcher has certainly gotten himself into a sticky situation, hopefully he can learn from this and in the future represent the Pine-stripes with dignity and class.