The Yankees steal Encarnacion from Tampa Bay and shut them out last night. But in case you missed it, the Red Sox are now a Wild Card team…
In the blink of an eye, the Yankees hear the thunder behind them as the Boston Red Sox, who began the season at 9-15, have won six straight, moving to six games over .500 while qualifying as a Wild Card team in the American League. When did that happen?
No one really believed the defending World Champions are as bad as they looked when the Yankees beat them handily in four out of five games earlier in the season. Did they?
Brian Cashman Pulls Another Fast One
With good reason, the Yankees have been mindful of the upstart Tampa Bay Rays so far. When Brian Cashman heard that the Rays were close to locking up a deal to land Edwin Encarnacion, he said uh-uh.
Somehow Cashman convinced the Mariners they didn’t need the prospects the Rays were offering, landing the slugging DH for mere pennies ($8 million) while (somehow again) getting the Mariners to kick in the remaining portion of Encarnacion’s salary. A robbery in broad daylight.
Now, guess what? Do you happen to recall that both Chris Sale and David Price, the Red Sox one-two punch in their rotation, are both lefties? Brian Cashman did when he added Encarnacion, that’s for sure.
Yankees-Red Sox Clash Is Inevitable
Over the next two weeks, we can expect the Red Sox, after they finish up with the Minnesota Twins, to feast on the Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox (three games each at Fenway) while the Yankees draw the Houston Astros for four games at Yankee Stadium, followed by Toronto for three games.
Suddenly, the two games in London against the Red Sox to finish out the month become elevated beyond the status of the exhibition games.
Games that were designed by Major League Baseball to spread the gospel of America’s National Pastime to soccer-crazy Europe (go figure) now become another chapter in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
The two games in London always “counted” as part of the schedule, but now they count even more. Following London, the Yankees and Red Sox don’t square off again until they meet at Fenway for four games beginning on July 25.
Circling that series (before and after), the Red Sox play Tampa Bay for six games while the Yankees play the Rays for four games over the July 4 weekend, plus four more at the Stadium July 15-18. Meaning, of course, the three teams are closely entwined with each other before August arrives.
Yankees-Red Sox Scramble To Fill Holes
It would be a huge mistake if either the Yankees or Red Sox overlooked Tampa Bay, a team that is expected to be all-in at the trade deadline to fortify an already strong squad.
But no matter how you parse it down, this season, like all seasons, are about the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry. In the all-important-loss-column, the Yankees have the edge over the Red Sox by seven games. This means the Red Sox not only need to continue to win their games, but they also need to hope the Yankees lose while they are winning. Tough to do as the season wears on.
Meanwhile, neither the Yankees or Red Sox can fare well if they don’t take care of business by filling holes that still exist. The Red Sox bullpen is and has been in shambles. And as the world knows by now, the Yankees need one, or preferably two front-line starting pitchers.
Yankees fans, it’s game on.