The Yankees returned home after a successful road trip out West where they went 6-3. Some can argue that the bats in the American League West are less than potent, but the pitchers the Mariners, A’s and Angels put on the mound were almost all top-quality.
The Yankees come back to the Stadium taking a few positives with them as souvenirs from the West Coast: Nick Swisher has started to hit again; the starting pitching is looking solid; two important arms in the bullpen, Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson, continue to get the job done; and Robinson Cano is more focused in the field.
But as the Yankees begin a home stand against their biggest rival, Boston, they need to hold onto the momentum they gained during this tough road trip and put some distance between themselves and the Red Sox in the standings. Both teams come into this series playing well and have a number of hitters smacking the cover off the ball.
The Yankees need to figure out how to keep Adrian Gonzalez (12 home runs) and Big Papi (13 home runs) in the ballpark, as well as Dustin Pedroia off the bases. Pedroia is hitting only .244 this season, but has a .625 average against the Yankees in their past six meetings.
The pitching matchups are surprisingly equal. There will be no Ivan Nova against Josh Beckett. Beckett will be battling against CC Sabathia in the series closer. The other two games will pit Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA) against Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34 ERA), and Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.40 ERA) against A.J. Burnett (6-3, 3.86 ERA). This should, hopefully, keep the games in reach for the Yankees even if they end up being 10-9 affairs (Boston/New York games so often do).
Boston is a mere game behind the Yanks after the Red Sox swept the A’s at Fenway. The A’s seemed to be spreading the love after getting swept at home in Oakland by the Yankees. (I think the A’s will be very happy to see the back end of the American League East.)
The Bombers haven’t played their best ball against the hated Sawx this season, so far going 1-5. A sweep would be nice, but the Yankees need to at least win the series to show they are the true beasts of the East.