With their inactivity at the July 31st trade deadline and last night’s drubbing of Josh Beckett guaranteeing the Yanks a split of the four game series, it would be easy for Yankee fans to dismiss the 2010 Red Sox. The series has lacked its usual buzz, they’re 8 games back in the loss for the division, staff ace Josh Beckett seems to never get the Yanks out anymore (0-2 with a 11.74 ERA in last 4 starts vs Yanks) Throw on top the recent loss of the talented Kevin Youkilis and it seems like just too much for them to overcome.
The division may be a bridge too far at 8 games back with 7 weeks to go, but don’t count them out for a playoff berth. They’re just 4 games back of the reeling Rays in the Wild Card standings, who have lost 4 straight and have starters Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis going to Tampa to have their aching shoulders examined. The 2010 Rays have built their season on the strength of their pitching, leading the league in team ERA. Losing 2/5 of their rotation is a huge blow to their recipe for success. By contrast, the Red Sox stacked starting rotation is just getting healthy for the stretch run. On the Sox injury front, Youkilis’ season-ending thumb injury certainly hurts, but having Mike Lowell ready to step in softens that blow substantially. He can’t replace Youkilis’ contributions offensively or defensively, but is a seasoned vet who gives them stability at the position.
Finally, take a look at the September schedule of the Yanks, the Rays and the Sox. The Yanks and Rays play each other 7 times over a 10 day stretch in mid-September. The Sox play 6 games vs Seattle and Baltimore in that same period. Somebody has to lose those Yanks-Rays games, so the Sox figure to gain ground quickly on someone. The Sox finish the season with 3 games in early October against the Yanks, and the Rays finish with a 3 game set facing KC. But if the Yanks have things wrapped up by then as we expect, they’ll be resting their starters and playing the kids in preparation for the post season, so that’s a wash. While we’re at it, let’s throw Minnesota or Chicago in this mix as well. Minnesota is only a 1/2 game back in their division, and half a game behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings. The race for the wild card is far from over this season, and could get crazy by the end of the year. It should be a fun September.
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