The Yankees are like a locomotive trying to get up a head of steam with enough momentum to carry them through the rest of the trip. Crushing the A’s means green lights on the track await them.
Yankees fans and all fans of baseball know about the tradition at Fenway Park when Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is blasted late in a game, and Red Sox fans of all ages sway with hands up in the stands awaiting the sing-a-long refrain, “So Good, So Good.” It’s a defining moment in Red Sox culture and a good one at that. Except the Yankees are made for destroying the good times at Fenway in the ALDS.
It’s an odd thing about baseball when six months and 162 games turn insignificant when October and the playoffs roll around. A team like the Red Sox can shatter their team records winning two of every three games they played in 2018, and still, they sit at 0-0 as play begins on Friday for Game One of the ALDS.
The Yankees got a head start on the Red Sox last night, and it was so good, so good. Luis Severino trusted with the ball by Aaron Boone, despite much debate, comes up big, leaving no doubt he is, indeed, the ace of the Yankees staff. Aaron Judge hits an explanation point home run in the bottom of the first inning jetting the Yankees to an immediate two-run lead. And Giancarlo Stanton hits one for good measure late in the game to seal the A’s fate. It was scripted, and the Yankees delivered their lines on time, and with a confidence that oozed through the pinstripes.
Meanwhile, Alex Cora‘s Red Sox last played on Sunday, and that immediately raises a red flag for his players who can only sit and wait and wait for Friday night to come. The Houston Astros, who are in a similar situation, hoped to combat the problem by having a five-inning “live pitching” game against each other. But still, nothing replaces the real thing which feeds the competitive nature of major league ballplayers.
Remarkably too, all of a sudden the question marks fall on the Red Sox after the Yankees survived the Severino over J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka test. Chris Sale is not Chris Sale, despite a valiant attempt to wean him back to full strength in September following an arm injury. As an elite pitcher in the game, Sale can be expected to give his competitive best, but will it be enough to shut down a Yankees lineup filled with challenges one through nine?
David Price, Cora’s choice as the Game Two starter, has problems of a different kind than Sale. Price is physically ready to go, but the question is will his head follow him? Dating back to 2008, Price is 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA in all postseason games. Moreover, he is 1-4 with an 8.31 ERA against the Yankees in six starts. Now, before you say it, by my logic Price is 0-0 against the world, giving him a mulligan on past performances. Just the same, Price is a wild card in this series with a temper and body language on the mound to watch closely when the Yankees rattle him a bit.
It goes without saying the baseball playoffs are a crapshoot, and good teams can fall by the wayside in the blink of an eye when a batted ball falls six inches this way or that way. Toss in the drama of a no-name player on the brink of extinction who rises to the occasion for one fleeting moment, causing Vegas oddsmakers to lose their shirt, and you have the makings of a setting which says, relax, sit back, watch and enjoy the games. Just ask Red Sox fans if they remember the name Aaron Boone in 2003, or Bucky Dent from 1975…
To use the locomotive analogy again, the Red Sox are just warming up the engines, and they have yet to move forward on the track. The Yankees, ironically by losing the division title to the Red Sox, have momentum on their side, along with a team of Baby Bombers, including even Giancarlo Stanton, who have tasted victory for the first time in a playoff atmosphere.
And as we saw on Wednesday, it’s so good, so good.
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