It always comes down to pitching. So, I will use that view in an attempt to predict what we will see from the Yankees-Bosox series over the next four days.
Jason Johnson (3-11, 6.26 ERA) versus Chien-Ming Wang (13-5, 3.84 ERA)
This is a must win game for the Yankees because Johnson is starting for the Red Sox. The only thing that concerns me here is that Wang is not the same pitcher on the road – as he is in the Bronx. And, Wang has not been lights-out sharp in recent starts. Also, it always seems like the Fenway infield gives the Yankees players issues – and that’s not going to work in Wang’s favor. I could see this game being one of those 7-6 affairs – and I hope the Yankees come out on top.
Jon Lester (6-2, 4.09) goes against Sidney Ponson (4-5, 5.82)
Ponson has never pitched well against Boston. But, Lester has been punched around lately. This one will be a battle of the bullpens. Whichever team does not burn out it’s pen in the first game today should win this game. Since Torre always burns his pen, and the Wang start is a must win game, I expect Boston to be better prepared to take this game tonight.
On the whole, I see the teams splitting the day-night double-dip today. Yanks get the day game and the Sox get the night-cap.
Josh Beckett (13-7, 5.02) and Randy Johnson (13-9, 4.92)
You never know which Randy Johnson will show up. And, if I recall correctly, he’s not a great Fenway Park pitcher. You also never know which Beckett will show up each start as well. I think this game has the potential to be another 7-6 contest. Since I think the Yankees will probably end up punting the night game today, and (hopefully!) not using their good staff from the pen, I think that Villone, Proctor and Farnsworth are going to be needed in this game. But, I think they will come through and the Yankees will win the game.
Curt Schilling (14-5, 3.83) versus Mike Mussina (13-5, 3.54)
Mussina always pitches well in Fenway – at least it seems. But, Schilling, even when he’s going bad, always hits another gear for the Yankees – at least it seems. I expect this one to be a close game – and not as high scoring as the three before it. Since the Yankees will have to use their pen to win the day game on Friday and the game on Saturday, I can see this one going to the Red Sox, late, because Torre went to someone like Proctor or Farnsworth (or even Mo) too many times in the first three games and then he tries to get blood from a stone in this one – and gets burned. Plus, it’s an ESPN game. The Yankees always lose the ESPN games – at least it seems. Boston evens the series with a win in this game.
David Wells (2-2, 6.06 ERA) against Cory Lidle (9-9, 4.64 ERA)
This one is going to be fun. Both teams are going to want this one. Since the bullpens on both teams should be toast by this game, it’s going to come down to Wells and Lidle. You know Wells wants this game. And, I believe that Lidle will be up for it as well. I can see this game coming down to which team makes the plays in the field. All I can say is: Please don’t hit it to A-Rod.
I cannot get a good feel for this game at this point. So, I will play it safe and say that Boston wins this one.
In total, I expect Boston to win 3 of the 5 games in this series. And, since that will result in just a one-game move in the standings – with the Yankees leaving Boston still in first place, that won’t be the worst thing that can happen to New York.
All I can say to the Yankees is: Make sure you win the two that you’re supposed to win in this series. And, that starts with the first game in a couple of hours.