Red Sox vs. Yankees Game 4
By: Willie Bee
If it wasn't for pine tar and the umpires, the Boston Red Sox would be going for a series sweep of the New York Yankees tonight in the Big Apple. At least that's how some of my friends who are Red Sox fans see things.
The Red Sox instead head into Sunday's series-ender needing a win to gain a split in their 4-game set with the Yanks. ESPN segues its latest segment of Baseball Tonight with this broadcast at 8 PM (ET), and the initial mound battle pits Felix Doubront for the visitors opposite Ivan Nova wearing the pinstripes.
A virtual pick 'em on the MLB odds board, New York has settled into slight chalk following overnight wagering. The matchup started with a 9 run total juiced to the 'over,' and that's where it remains some 12 hours prior to first pitch.
Replay Snafu Has Sox
The new MLB replay system got its first failing mark Saturday at Yankee Stadium, and I agree with Red Sox manager John Farrell being a little upset about the outcome. But the bad call at 2B on New York's Dean Anna in the eighth isn't why Boston dropped the 7-4 decision, and those five homers the Yankees hit -- 2 by Brian McCann -- are to blame.
Doubront is level after two assignments, neither of which earned him a notch in the quality start column. Boston's bullpen held things together for him to get a win at Baltimore during Week 1, Doubront failing to get through the sixth having surrendered three runs. He followed that by getting chased in the third inning at home by the Rangers five days ago, allowing five runs while coaxing just eight outs.
The Venezuelan lefty had two good starts and two bad ones vs. the Yankees last year, though the Sox managed to win three of the games despite Doubront's 6.30 overall ERA.
NY Bullpen Does Its
Job In Game 3 Victory
While the five long balls New York hit on Saturday deserve a lot of credit for the win, let's also not forget about the job Joe Girardi's bullpen did. This is a relief corps very much in flux following the retirement of Mariano Rivera, and the four arms that came on for starter Hiroki Kuroda did a fabulous job (2.2 IP, 1 Hit, 3 K).
Like Doubront, Nova is making his third start of the season with a 1-1 record and no entries in his quality start column. He managed to beat the Astros in Houston nearly two weeks ago despite issuing five walks, then was hammered at home this past week by the Orioles, his evening ending before the fourth inning was done with 10 hits and seven runs charged to the ledger.
Nova also struggled in two tries vs. Boston a year ago (8 IP, 7 ER). David Ortiz and Mike Napoli have each taken him deep along the way.
I'm looking for another high-side winner on the scoreboard for my free baseball pick.
My Pick: Red Sox-Yankees Over 9 (-115)
Season: 11-10 (+0.40)
Red Sox vs. Yankees Game 3
By: Willie Bee
A couple of homers were all Boston's Jon Lester needed Friday as the Red Sox leveled their 4-game series with the New York Yankees. Neither team will have long to dwell on that, however, with an early afternoon post time for Saturday's third game of the set.
The Red Sox and Yankees are scheduled for a 1:05 PM (ET) start in the Bronx where a pair of veteran righthanders collide. John Lackey answers the call for Boston manager John Farrell while Joe Girardi sends Hiroki Kuroda to the hill.
Some betting outlets charted by SBR's live MLB odds are showing the game as a pick 'em on the Saturday morning lines, and others have the Yankees as very slight chalk. An 8.5 run total is split even at some shops, others lean to the 'over' and still more are pricing it to the low side.
Sizemore Early AL
Comeback Player Contender
The big blow for Boston on Friday was Grady Sizemore's 3-run blast that capped a 4-run sixth inning for the Red Sox. Sizemore is attempting to return to the level of play that made him a star in Cleveland, only to have injuries derail his career and keep him off the field each of the past two seasons.
Lackey is taking the mound in hopes of running his record to 3-0 after two excellent outings vs. the Orioles and Rangers. In 13 innings, the righthander has allowed just eight hits (1 HR) and two earned runs, and has won five of his last six starts dating to the 2013 playoffs.
He made one start at Yankee Stadium last season and got the win, though it definitely wasn't a quality effort (5.2 IP, 7 ER). Lackey is 5-3 (Boston 7-4) with a 5.11 ERA in 11 starts vs. New York since joining the Red Sox in 2010.
Struggling To Score
Offense remains a problem for Girardi's gang 11 games into the schedule. New York ranks 13th in the AL averaging 3.55 RPG, and while the Yankees lead the Junior Circuit in steals, they haven't been able to capitalize on those extra bases.
Kuroda could be 2-0 with a little more help from his offense. He pitched into the seventh against the Orioles this past Monday to pick up his first dubya, that assignment following a fine performance in a loss at Houston a week earlier when he gave up just three hits and two runs in six frames.
Six starts vs. the Red Sox last season netted Kuroda a 1-4 record (NY 2-4) with an ERA approaching 5.00. David Ortiz has been a particularly tough out for the Yankee starter, with Big Papi batting .588 (10-for-17) with a homer.
It should be a nice, sunny day in New York with the thermometer climbing into the 70s and a west wind in the 8-12 mph range (out to center). Let's get behind the bats with our free MLB pick in this one and add the 'over' to our Saturday plays.
My pick: Red Sox-Yankees Over 8.5 (+100)
Red Sox vs. Yankees Game 2
By: Willie Bee
I can hardly wait to hear what Stephen A Smith and Skip Clueless, er, I mean, Bayless have to say about whatever substance was on Michael Pineda's right hand in Thursday night's New York Yankees victory over the Boston Red Sox. Personally, I think it was chocolate from all the candy bars Pineda is wolfing down between innings.
The first contest of this 4-game series went to New York by a 4-1 count, and while much of the nation focuses on the controversy surrounding Pineda, the rest of us are far more interested in Friday's matchup. A 7:05 PM (ET) first pitch is on tap at Yankee Stadium with a pair of veteran southpaws, Jon Lester and CC Sabathia, slated to battle on the mound.
After playing the role of small road pups in the opener, the Red Sox are light chalk for Game 2 in the -120 to -125 range. The MLB odds board also lists 8.5 for a total, evenly split high and low at many shops while others slightly favor the 'under.'
Lester Still Looking
For 1st Win Of 2014
Considering the Red Sox have scored all of one run in Lester's two starts this year, one can't help but wonder if Yovani Gallardo and Chris Tillman didn't have pine tar on their hands when taking on Boston. If nothing else, it gives Red Sox Nation an excuse for why their team dropped those games to the Brewers and Orioles.
Lester certainly has pitched well enough to be 2-0 instead of 0-2 at this point. He worked at least seven frames in each outing, allowing just three earned runs and only walking two against 14 strikeouts.
In addition to going after his first win of 2014, Lester will also be looking for his first win at Yankee Stadium since August 2012. Boston has dropped his three assignments on this diamond since then, though Lester pitched to a 3.25 ERA in those games. More pine tar, no doubt.
Sabathia In Search Of
1st Quality Start Of Season
While Lester has pitched well enough to be 2-0, Sabathia could easily have an 0-2 record instead of standing 1-1. The big lefty lost his Opening Day assignment at Houston before getting enough offense to even his record five days later in Toronto. All told, Sabathia has surrendered 10 runs in 12 innings, serving up three gopher balls along the way.
Boston banged him around pretty good in five assignments last season, hitting a robust .339 against Sabathia and beating the Yankees in three of the tilts. He had just one quality start in vs. the Red Sox in 2013, and owns a 6.48 ERA over his last 12 assignments against Boston.
The weatherman is calling for steady showers throughout the evening in the New York City area, with the thermometer in the low-60s, upper-50s at game time. James Hoye is next in line for plate duty among this umpire crew, and his two previous dish assignments this season failed to reach the total following a 13-20-1 O/U/P record in 2013.
Until Sabathia starts to pitch well enough to win games on his own, I see no reason to bet him. Friday's free MLB pick will be on Boston.
My pick: Red Sox -120Season: 9-8 (+0.40)
Red Sox vs. Yankees Game 1
By: Willie Bee
The comment first brought something of an incredulous reaction from yours truly, quickly followed by a chuckle. It came last week during a broadcast of a matchup between the Reds and Cardinals, and the ESPN mouthpiece suggested the Cincinnati-St. Louis rivalry was becoming the best in baseball.
It just goes to show that as long as these announcers keep flapping their lips, the sooner they all run out of anything intelligent to say.
The Reds and Cardinals might be among the best rivalries in baseball, but it's certainly not No. 1 on the list. That position belongs to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox who renew their rivalry Thursday night in the Bronx with the first of a 4-game weekend set.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM (ET) with Clay Buchholz toiling on the mound for the visitors and Michael Pineda making his second start of the season for the Yanks. The clash was sent out as a pick 'em at several shops monitored by SBR's live MLB odds, but New York is now a slight -110 to -115 favorite with an 8.5 run total that slightly favors the 'under.'
The clubs split their regular season meetings in 2009-10 winning nine apiece each of those years, but the series has since bounced back and forth. The Red Sox won 12 of 18 in 2011 and 13 of 19 last season, while the Yankees went 13-5 in 2012. Boston has come out on top in five of the last six matchups in New York (4-2 O/U), and is 24-22 at Yankee Stadium since it opened in 2009.
Red Sox Hit Road
Following 2-4 Homestand
Boston (4-5 straight up, -3.1 units) begins a weeklong road trip with this stop in New York, traveling to Chicago's South Side to take on the White Sox after this set. The Red Sox just completed their first homestand of the season by taking two of three from the Texas Rangers following getting swept by the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend.
Their spirits should be high to begin this trek after rallying to beat the Rangers in Wednesday's series finale at Fenway Park. David Ortiz swatted a 3-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to lift Boston past Texas, 4-2. It was Ortiz's second blast of the year, and sixth for the Red Sox whose pitchers have served up seven long balls.
Buchholz allowed two of those homer in his first starting assignment of 2014, a 7-6 setback to the Brewers last Saturday. The contest went 11 innings before it was decided, and Buchholz was long gone by then having been relieved in the fifth after surrendering Milwaukee's first six runs.
Bullpen Woes Lead To
2nd-Straight Loss For Yanks
New York (4-5, -2.6) wasted another solid pitching performance on Wednesday by rookie Masahiro Tanaka to drop a second consecutive game in the series vs. Baltimore. The absence of the great Mariano Rivera showed in this game as Shawn Kelley allowed the Orioles to score twice in the ninth. Kelley has been forced into the closer's role with David Robertson (groin) on the DL, and Yankee relievers are sporting a 4.81 ERA after the first nine games.
Pineda took the loss last weekend at Toronto, a 4-0 Blue Jays victory in which the big righty allowed one run in his six innings. He'll be facing the Red Sox for just the second time in his career, and hoping for much better results than his 2011 effort in Boston where he was charged with seven runs and failed to get through the fifth frame.
Buchholz saw the Yankees three times in 2013, and came away with the victory in all three assignments. It will be interesting to see how he -- and the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff -- works former teammate Jacoby Ellsbury in this series, but for tonight, I'm expecting Buchholz to be on his game against the entire New York lineup. My free MLB pick is on Boston.
My pick: Red Sox +100Season: 9-7 (+1.4)