While it may not be a battle for first place, this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees will be a major test for the Red Sox. With a relatively easy schedule up to this point in the season, Boston will be tested against some of the AL’s best teams in June. Despite New York going 3-7 in its last 10 games, Boston can’t afford to slip up. Up 2.5 games on the Yankees, the Red Sox will need to win at least one game to hold onto second place. Ideally, if Boston can win the series, they will be able to separate themselves and solidify their spot in the Wild Card race. In order to prepare yourself for the series, here are a few keys for Boston to win this series.
1. Score Early as Possible
Boston is fortunate that New York’s best two starters, Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber, won’t appear in the series. Instead, they will face Michael King, who has started only one game this year. They’ll also face Jameson Taillon, sporting a 5.10 ERA, and Domingo German. It will be important for Boston to get ahead early because New York’s strength lies in the bullpen. Yankee relievers have a combined 2.82 ERA which is third best in the league. Closer Aroldis Chapman has 12 saves to go along with 0.41 ERA.
2. Shut Down the Big Hitters
Due to injuries throughout the lineup, the Yankees offense doesn’t look as scary as it did earlier in the season. Nevertheless, Red Sox pitchers will need to focus in on a few hitters in order to shut down New York. Aaron Judge has been as dangerous as ever. The outfielder leads New York in just about every major offensive category, including home runs with 13 and batting average at .289. Third baseman Miguel Andujar has also been hot lately. He has hit three home runs and is hitting .292 in his last seven games. If Boston can keep the ball in the ballpark and shut these two down, the Yankee offense will have a tough time scoring.
3. E-Rod Returning to Form
Out of the three starters Boston is sending out in the series, Eduardo Rodriguez is the only one with an ERA over 5.00. The lefty has lost his last four outings and gave up six runs against Houston earlier this week. With a lineup hitting almost exclusively from the right side, this will be the one game to expect Yankee hitters to be aggressive. Rodriguez doesn’t have to be perfect, but Boston will need him to keep the game close for 5-6 innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen.