*No asterisk is required to expand on the rivalry between these two teams, or the implications of just one win.
It is the opposition of the ages—Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees. The rivalry between these two teams reaches all the way back into the annals of baseball history, and it is loaded with enough drama to entice even the casual baseball fan.
Thursday night in Yankee Stadium saw the Bronx Bombers rack up home run on top of home run in a 13-6 victory over the Sox in the first of a four-game series.
This was the first win for the Yankees over the Sox this season and signified what was seemingly the last obstacle for the Yanks on their way to an AL East division win, as they move to 3.5 games ahead of Boston.
The win also gave the Yankees a 66-42 record, one of the best in baseball.
But does this beat down of their arch rival and most threatening competitor in the Al East, coupled with their shinning winning record, really mean that a division win and playoff spot are a cinch for the New York Yankees? And, does it make them the best team in baseball?
The Yanks were able to take advantage of Boston’s John Smoltz inability to pitch to left-handed hitters. Certainly the New York wind tunnel was on the Yankees’ side as balls flew out of the park with ease.
Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, and Jorge Posada all connected for home runs.
But the Yankees didn’t have to rely completely on home runs. They were able to build some runs off of aggressive base running and base hits, something they weren’t doing earlier in the season, when the Sox were beating the Yankees every time the two rivals met.
There is also the timing of this win to consider. It’s August now, when the games start to mean more than they did in April, May, or even June.
Winning in August means that the Yankees are gaining momentum at the right time for a playoff push.
Yet the Yankees weren’t perfect.
The Sox were able to take an early lead off of Joba Chamberlain’s woeful pitching.
Perhaps it was this component of the Yanks that was the most troubling.
More than once Chamberlain pitched himself into a hole against the Sox, giving up a career high seven walks on the night.
Chamberlain gave up six hits, four runs, and lasted five innings. Those stats aren’t too bad considering how nervous he made the Yankee faithful feel all night.
At the top of the third, Chamberlain gave up one homer followed by two walks.
Chamberlain started the fifth inning by throwing eight straight balls, walking Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis. After David Ortiz flied out to center, Chamberlain walked J.D. Drew to load the bases.
The Sox were not able to capitalize on the situation, however, and Chamberlain escaped the inning giving up only one run.
However, Yankees opponents won’t always be as offensively sluggish, and if they hope to pick up more wins down the final stretch of the season, Chamberlain can’t load the bases with walks, especially not against a dangerous team like the Red Sox.
A three and a half game lead is good, but it’s definitely not insurmountable.
As for being the best team in baseball, the Yankees have 66 wins. Only the LA Dodgers have more at 67. The Dodgers and the Yankees are tied at 42 losses each.
Certainly there are a lot of good teams in the Major Leagues this season, but in a sport that’s all about statistics, having 66 wins and 42 losses makes a good case for being the best.
If the Yankees' bats stay hot, the team can only gain momentum despite the inconsistent pitching on Chamberlain’s part.
Should the Bronx Bombers keep swinging for the fences, they could not only find themselves at the top of the AL East, but could also be the best team in baseball as well.