Boston Red Sox: 5 Questions Going into the New York Yankees Series
Of course, we saw last September that no lead is safe. However, sitting 11.5 games behind the Yankees—who are playing very well—is a formidable lead to try to erase.
Will Yankees Pitch to David Ortiz?
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David Ortiz has been Boston's best hitter. He is winning the team's Triple Crown, leading all Red Sox in batting average (.302), home runs (22) and RBI (55), and is the only member of the team elected to the All-Star Game.
Therefore, it figures that if the Sox are to win some games over the weekend, Big Papi would probably play a role in it.
However, he is probably going to have very little protection.
Adrian Gonzalez is a struggling singles hitter and Will Middlebrooks is nursing a sore hamstring and has missed three straight games.
The Oakland Athletics took the bat out of Papi's hands, giving him little to hit on their way to a three-game sweep.
Here's a decent bet for the weekend: Which will Ortiz have more of, home runs or intentional walks?
What Will Adrian Gonzalez Give You?
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By all accounts, Adrian Gonzalez had a great 2011. He led the league in hits, he batted .338, drove in 117 runs and hit 45 doubles. The home runs were a little low at 27, but generally, he was excellent.
However, he was woeful against the Sox' AL East rivals. In 18 games against New York, he hit .183 with two home runs. Against the Tampa Bay Rays, he was even worse with a .131 average.
This is a weekend where he can come out and rid himself of some of those demons.
Can Josh Beckett Repeat 2011?
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In 2011, Josh Beckett dominated the Yankees. In five starts, he was 4-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP.
By and large, he has been very good this season but has had a lack of run production of late, with the Sox scoring just seven runs total in his last four outings.
Can the Offense Turn Things Around?
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It's not just in Josh Beckett's starts that the Red Sox offense has struggled. Lately, they have been terribly lacklustre.
On their seven-game road trip, during which Boston went 2-5, the lineup scored a total of 13 runs. In their last 13 games, the Sox have scored more than four runs just twice, been held to one run four times and been shut out once.
Despite that, they still rank fourth in the majors with 411 runs scored. Pitching has been a problem this season. When the rotation actually gives you good starts, you can't afford to waste them by not scoring.
Where Will Boston Be on Monday?
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When Red Sox Nation wakes up on Monday for the four-day All-Star break, things could be very bleak. A sweep by the New York Yankees would leave them 11.5 games out of first in the division, and they would still be trailing at least three other teams for the two wild-card spots.
Of course, the Sox could have a great weekend and be as few as 3.5 games back. The next four days will be very important for the division; the next two weeks—with a series against New York, Tampa Bay, Chicago and Texas—will be very important for the season.
Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU and has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, or tell him how awesome/terrible this article was, by clicking here.