New York Yankees: Long ball hopes to propel them this weekend

Mike Kutniewski JrCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2008

It was a hit the Yankees have been waiting for since the invention of sliced bread.  Alright, maybe not that long, but it has been awhile since they were able to put four runs on the scoreboard with one swing.


Jason Giambi’s grand slam in the bottom of the third last night against Texas turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead and led the Yankees to an 18-7 home win.  


It ended a stretch of scoring three runs or less, which doesn’t help win many games when the pitching staff is in shambles.


Now the top rivals in the game, the Boston Red Sox, march into town after being swept on the road by the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. 


Normally a Yankees/Red Sox series in early July is a battle for top spot in the AL East.  This time the stakes are a bit different. 


The Yankees need to come out swinging, pitching and fielding, and attempt to make some headway in the standings, currently four games behind the Sox for second place and almost eight games out of first.


Even though the Yankees did somehow score 18 runs by taking advantage of the Texas bullpen (12 runs scored off 12 hits off its members) I am not extremely confident in this series. 


The Sox will be a group of mad men who were put in their place by a team typically sitting in the last-place spot.


The Yankees aren’t even playing dominant baseball at home this season, standing at 23-20 just past the halfway part of their home schedule.


The Yankees must get off to a good start tonight because they have Andy Pettitte on the mound going for his 10th win against Jon Lester.  Lester pitched one game in his career against the Yanks in 2006 and didn’t fare too well. 


On the Fourth of July the Sox have the clear advantage as Josh Beckett takes on Darrell Rasner.  Rasner started off well but has since come back to earth to pitch average baseball, giving his team chances to win games only to see no offense support him. 


Mussina takes on the young Justin Masterson, who has had control problems recently and will be making his stadium debut.  The Moose has pitched well the last couple games only to see the offense let him down: sounds like a broken record. 


On Sunday night the spotlight will once again be on Joba Chamberlain as he puts his future starting career in focus against a team he will face many times over the next several years. 


He will take his one starting win against Tim Wakefield.  Wakefield has been great against the Yanks at times and mediocre as well, so nobody knows which game he will bring.


It’s obvious the reaction to the “on-paper” matchups means nothing and that’s why they play the games.


The Yankees and Red Sox will spend the holiday weekend battling and one of them may be done in for the long-term by the result and one could use this series to take off to a mid-summer jump in the American League East.