The Yankees are northbound for their first series at Fenway Park this season against first-place Boston with a lot on the line. Three games in mid-July won't hardly decide a season, but a sweep at the hand of the Red Sox could be deadly for the Bombers' aspirations to claim the AL East division crown.
The Yankees will send the venerable, yet recently shaky, Andy Pettitte to the mound Friday night to square off against Boston southpaw, Felix Doubront. Saturday's late afternoon pairing features Yankee ace Hiroki Kuroda and John Lackey. The Sunday night game of the week will pit CC Sabathia versus Jon Lester.
The Bombers will be without shortstop Derek Jeter, who was placed on the disabled list earlier today, retroactive to July 12th. This is hardly surprising, but it hurts all the more since the Yankees will face two lefties this weekend and could use Jeter's bat in the lineup.
New York has the 27th best OPS in the majors against lefties, and other teams have caught on, often shifting their pitching rotation to have southpaws face the Yankee lineup. It won't be easy for New York, but the Yankees certainly have pitchers with the experience and know how to navigate this dangerous Red Sox lineup.
It's Yankees and Red Sox, a rivalry renewed, from steamy hot Beantown this evening. The Yankees could pull off a stunner and take all three games this weekend if the bats can get going. While unlikely, it's never out of the realm of possibility.
Here are three keys to the Yankees sweeping the Red Sox to get the second half of the big league season started off proper.