Davidoff: 5 keys to the Yankees-Sox series
The early innings.
Sure, you always want to score runs and keep opponents scoreless early in a ballgame, but this applies triply so this weekend. Let’s face it: Fenway Park is going to be one raw, vulnerable sports venue. The Red Sox’s stunning, 0-6 start can’t be ignored, and the Yankees should use all of the weapons at their disposal to try to get Red Sox Nation to turn on its own. What’s the best way to do that? Put the home team in a quick hole. A 2-0 deficit is going to feel like 20-0 for this Boston team right now.
Lackey’s and Beckett’s pitch count.
As a corollary to number one, the Yankees’ lineup is naturally good at working counts and driving the starting pitchers out of there early. They should regard Friday’s starter John Lackey and Sunday night’s starter Josh Beckett as a dog regards a prime cut of chateaubriand. Lackey lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the fearsome Texas lineup, which withdrew 86 pitches from the right-hander. Even more troubling for the Red Sox, Beckett needed 106 pitches to pitch just five innings against unimposing Cleveland.
Run, Yankees, run.
Another corollary to number one. Actually, Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been decent in this regard, nabbing three of eight potential base-stealers. But, to introduce a point we’ll bring up again shortly, why not test Saltalamacchia in the tension and anxiety of The Rivalry? Brett Gardner is one of the fastest runners in the game, Russell Martin knows what he’s doing out there and Alex Rodriguez knows what he’s doing out there. No one has tried to run yet this season on backup catcher Jason Varitek, who will probably start one of these three games, but we know from history that he’s an easier mark
The new guys.
Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will make their Red Sox home debuts on Friday. To do so with their team 0-6? Against the Yankees? It’ll be, arguably, an environment unlike anything either has faced. A good performance from one or both can help the Red Sox elevate past their current travails. Failure to perform in a big spot could ramp up the tension even more. Meanwhile, look for Yankees lefty reliever Boone Logan to get plenty of work, be it to go after Crawford, Gonzalez or David Ortiz.
Carrying the load?
Prior to Thursday’s game in Cleveland, Boston manager Terry Francona publicly hoped that starting pitcher Jon Lester would “get on a roll and put us on our shoulders.” Lester did that, only to get no run support. It sure feels like someone on the Red Sox needs to step up with a dominant game to help the team get a win. On the Yankees, meanwhile, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both seem in the sort of groove that would lead to them carrying the team for a day or three.
Predictions: The Yankees will extend the Red Sox’s misery on Friday night, winning by a 7-5 score, before Clay Buchholz finally gets Boston a victory on Saturday, 6-1. CC Sabathia and the Yankees will capture Sunday’s rubber game, 4-2.