COMMENTARY | Whenever the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees square off, it's as close to a guaranteed exciting game of baseball as you can get.
The upcoming three-game weekend series between these two teams in the middle of a playoff race should be no different.
The Yankees are in a fight for their playoff lives
It just wouldn't feel like September without the Yankees fighting for a spot in the playoffs, something that seemed almost impossible to imagine halfway through the season. Despite all of the injuries, the drama with Alex Rodriguez, and numerous games played with unheard of minor leaguers and journeymen in the infield, New York has somehow managed to make a run at one of the two available wild-card spots.
In the month of August, the Yankees went 16-12, their best finish of any month this season except April. The once-anemic offense managed to score 127 runs in 28 games, the highest total for any single month thus far, and the team has managed to pull itself within 1 game of the Tampa Bay Rays for a wild-card berth. The Yankees also successfully beat down the Red Sox in the only series the two teams played in August, winning two out of three games by a total of 19-9.
Their hot run, however, was swiftly put to an end by Boston earlier in September, when the Red Sox took three games out of four games at Yankee Stadium. This ended a Yankees winning streak going into the series where New York was able to tally a record of 7-3 in 10 previous contests. With only 16 games left in the season for the Yankees, every single game has become a must-win battle, and they can't afford to suffer another major setback like they did the last time these two teams met.
The hottest team in baseball
The Red Sox will enter the series against New York with a winning percentage in September of at least .727 and on pace to exceed runs scored totals from any previous month this year. Boston has been especially hot in the second half of the season, going 31-19, a winning percentage of .620.
Additionally, the Red Sox have won each of the last seven series played, including series against playoff-caliber teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays. Making things more interesting is the fact that the last team Boston lost a series to was the Yankees, a fact I am sure the Red are well aware of.
Although Boston is in no danger of losing its spot at the top of the division, the Red Sox would love nothing more than to sweep New York and severely damage its chances of making it into the postseason. The Red Sox would also, like all teams in the American League, like to avoid any possibility of having to play New York in the playoffs. The Yankees may not be nearly as good as they have been in recent years, but no one is interested in playing in Yankee Stadium in October.
From the Yankees' perspective, the entire season could come down to these three games. If the Yankees are able to take down three of Boston's best starters -- John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz -- at Fenway Park, it could give them the September push they need to make a strong playoff run. If the Yankees get hammered in Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays, who are set to play the struggling Minnesota Twins over the weekend, will have an opportunity to put some space between themselves and New York before starting an eight-game homestand against the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees simply don't have time to collapse at Fenway Park and recover to make the playoffs. For New York, this series is definitely "do or die."
Fireworks will fly
Emotions will be running high this weekend between these two clubs; the Yankees have their backs against the wall, the Red Sox are as hot as ever, and each team has beaten down the other in the last two series. Oh yeah, there is also that whole 100-year-old rivalry thing to consider.
In addition to expecting a lot of passion out of both teams, you should expect to see long and high-scoring affairs. When Boston played New York in a four game series from Sept. 5 to Sept. 8, the last time these ball clubs faced off, a total of 66 runs were scored, including 11 combined home runs and 10 stolen bases. I wouldn't expect this weekend's series to be much different.
You can watch the Red Sox battle the Yankees on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:10 p.m. EST, on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1:05 p.m. (nationally televised on Fox), and on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 8:05 p.m. on ESPN.
Don't agree with me? Tell me why I am wrong on Twitter @THATCelticsGuy.
Justin Haskins is a New England native and a freelance journalist. He has been obsessively following Boston professional sports for 10 years and has been published in numerous online publications and websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Red Sox
- New York
- Tampa Bay Rays