The Yankees and Red Sox meet in a game where all the stats and analytics can be thrown out the window. Tonight, it all starts with zeros.
The Yankees regular season is now in the books. Two seven-game losing streaks, a thirteen-game winning streak, Gerrit Cole‘s 6.25 ERA over his last four starts, and who did what against Nathan Eovaldi – none of it matters.
Instead, tonight’s game will be one in which Aaron Boone matches wits with Alex Cora. Oh, they’ll have that clipboard with all the numbers humanly possible to assemble, and they’ll glance at it, but in the end, they’ll go with their gut and answer for it later.
It’ll be the same way with the players. If Tyler Wade is sent in the game as a pinch-runner and he senses something – anything that feels like an advantage – he’s off and running on the pitch.
It’ll be a game, however, played like all others this year. The Yankees will make two-handed catches in the outfield, run hard to first base, and avoid trying to hit a five-run home run, regardless of the score.
The revenge factor of the Red Sox due to the Yankees blowout sweep two weeks ago at Fenway – what about it? It means nothing to either team now.
Ditto the Yankees 2021 stats against Eovaldi: Anthony Rizzo‘s five hits in nine at-bats against him (.556), nor do Giancarlo Stanton‘s two home runs and 7 RBI.
And by the same token, .143 batting averages by Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez (well, maybe his does) mean nothing as well.
Yankees: A Couple Of Things That Do Matter
What does mean something, though, is the absence of DJ LeMauhieu from the Yankees lineup, Gio Urshela‘s “soreness” from his head-long dive into the Tampa Bay dugout (nice of them not to break his fall, huh?), and above all else, Gerrit Cole, the man who was brought in by the Yankees with this game in mind.
Known for his ability to pitch with his head, Cole and his partner Kyle Higashioka will need to make quick and determined judgments.
Deciding what’s working and what pitch needs to be put on the backburner is critical, and it must come early.
Like most premier pitchers, if you are going to get to them, it has to be before they settle down with a game plan that’s developed and working. Not surprisingly, we can expect Yankees hitters to be aggressive against Eovaldi early in the count and less so when their lineup turns over.
Unless the crowd at Fenway gets unruly, which has been known to happen when the Yankees are in town, it will not be a factor except for the 767 camera shots of faces in the crowd by ESPN that will drive me crazy. But not the Yankees.
The rain that came through the New York area yesterday will not be a factor in Boston, but it’ll be a crisp night with temps at 53 degrees.
Small Things That Make For Big Things
Of note, the home plate umpire tonight is Mark Carlson, who was promoted by MLB as Crew Chief in March. Yankees hitters and pitchers – take notice – Carlson is rated as “extremely favorable,” receiving an ERA of 4.14, as opposed to (for example) Ron Kulpa, who gets the honor of favoring pitchers most with a 3.92 ERA.
Small things make for big things in a game like the one tonight, and the message sent to Gerrit Cole is not to try to be too fine with his pitches because he is not likely to get the corners.
As for Yankees heroes, we have to look as we have all season to Aaron Judge, and if Boston decides to pitch around him, Stanton will be there to back Judge up.
Otherwise, it’s a toss-up because contributions have come from everywhere on the Yankees team, especially of late.
Yankees: Not To Worry, They’ve Got This
A word to the wise, distill the cocktails with plenty of ice because, in the tradition of Yankees-Red Sox games, this will be a long one, and the clock will be close to midnight when it’s all over.
Prediction? It’s all Yankees, though the margin will be close, and the innings will pile up before a decisive blow is cast. Yankees 5 Boston 3