When last we saw the Boston Red Sox, they were looking mighty sullen in the
dugout after a certain basketball-playing third baseman - who shall remain
nameless, though I'm told he's picked up quite the nickname around Beantown -
swatted a long homerun into left field at Yankee Stadium. But Boston
didn't hang their heads for very long, getting right down to the business during
Boston, much like these here Yankees, reloaded for 2004 with bigger and
better weapons. Allow me to introduce you to Curt Schilling - owner of 53
victories in his last 94 starts; Keith Foulke - he of the 43 saves and a 2.08
ERA in 2003; and let's not forget about Alex Rodrigu- oh wait, no, he's playing
third base for the Yankees, my mistake.
At any rate, Boston is at least as good of a team as they were in 2003, and
they were a heck of a good team in 2003. Trouble is, so are the
Yankees. The only real difference between 2003 and 2004 (not counting the
new faces on both sides of the war) is the rivalry - which has managed to grow
even more intense and take on a life of it's own.
This is baseball, folks, let's get down to it.
Things to watch for: Everything. Don't miss a second of it.
Yankees Away Record: 2-2
Boston Home Record: 2-2
Friday: Javier Vazquez (1-0, 1.13) vs. Tim Wakefield (0-0, 3.38)|
The Yankees get to show off their newest toy in the very first game of the
series, with Vazquez taking the mound to answer everyone's questions about how
well he handles pressure. I doubt he's ever even considered the amount of
pressure that pitching for the Yankees in Fenway Park can bring on, but I doubt
he cares either. Vazquez was as cool as the other side of the pillow in
his first outing, allowing just three hits through eight innings against the
White Sox, let's hope for more of the same.
The last time we saw Wakefield, his head was spinning 180 degrees to watch that
certain basketball-playing third baseman's homerun trail off into the left-field
stands. That one pitch notwithstanding, Wakefield gave the Yankees fits
during the playoffs, and probably would have won ALCS MVP if Boston had actually
won the thing. That knuckleball just befuddled the Yankees last year, but
do you really think that A-Rod and Sheffield will flail at it like Karim Garcia
and Alfonso Soriano? I don't either.
Saturday: Mike Mussina (1-2, 8.22) vs. Curt Schilling (1-0, 3.21)
Mussina (finally) bounced back from two rough starts to produce a Quality
Start in his last appearance against Chicago. He struck out six and
allowed three earned runs in 6.1 innings. Not the ace-caliber stuff we
want, but not too shabby. Here's hoping Moose is hitting his stride as the
Yankees head into this crucial (yes, crucial) series. Mussina is 16-11,
3.09 against Boston in his career and 10-5, 3.05 in Fenway, if you were curious.
Schilling's one of the best in the business, but he hasn't historically
performed well against the Yankees (1-2, 4.66 in seven appearances - four
starts) during the regular season. But Schilling is always up for a
challenge, and he's as fierce a competitor as any. He wants to win this
game, I can smell it.
Sunday: Jose Contreras (0-1, 8.44) vs. Derek Lowe (1-0, 3.00)
Contreras still has all the potential in the world, but he has to harness
it. He looked downright bad at times during his first appearance, throwing
just over half of his pitches for strikes. He's not going to be able to
mess around like that and succeed, just like he couldn't against Chicago when
they tagged him for five runs a week ago. Boston also hammered him last
season, if you were curious.
Personally, Lowe still confuses the heck out of me as a pitcher, but one thing I
do know is that he loves pitching in Fenway Park. He's not the monster he
was in 2002 when he won 21 games, but he's not as bad as he sometimes looked
last season (when he still won 17). He's somewhere in the middle, which
seems to match up nicely with Contreras.
Monday: Kevin Brown (3-0, 1.29) vs. Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 6.00)
Finally, Brown gets a real challenge. The right-hander has made it no
secret that he loves competition, and somehow I think that facing the Devil Rays
in his first three starts isn't exactly fueling his competitive fire - at least
not judging from the way he so easily dispatched them all three times. Now
a 200-game winner, Brown will face his biggest challenge since the 1998 World
Series, the Red Sox, as a Yankee.
Someone please tell me what Arroyo is doing here instead of Pedro? Someone
please tell me who this Arroyo character is? Pedro could have just as
easily pitched this game, but no, the weather had to spoil it. Alas, we'll
have to wait to meet our favorite enemy. Instead we get Arroyo, who is
okay, but nothing decent, and certainly not on Kevin Brown's level. But,
hey, there's a reason they play the games.
Predictions and Prognostications:
Not bold prediction: The Yankees will win at least one game in the
Really boring prediction: Each team takes two.
Bolder prediction: Vazquez and Brown win, the Sox take the two weekend
Completely obvious prediction: This series will be a lot of
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