The first Yankees-Red Sox series of the year seemed as intense as a playoff series. All three games were come from behind wins, and the Yankees were able to salvage the series. After losing the first game, the Yankees came back and won the last two to win the rubber match.
Some players had a marvelous series while other players struggled mightily. Here are five story lines that we should follow through the rest of the season series between the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Robinson Cano seemed at home hitting in the fifth spot in the lineup. He led the Yankees with three RBI in the series and tied Jorge Posada with five hits.
Cano also seemed very comfortable hitting in Fenway, as usual. In 46 career games in Boston, Cano has a .350 batting average and nine home runs. He can bounce balls off the Green Monster will his opposite field power, and can hit balls out of deep right field.
There have been many large expectations placed on Cano; they are now even greater as he has been promoted in the lineup. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both struggled in the series, but Cano picked up the slack, just like the Yankees needed.
If the Yankees plan on replacing the production of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, Cano will have to have a big year. It seems that he is well on his way.
We both know that each team has great starting pitching. I'll give the slight
edge to the Red Sox because of their depth. However, the bullpens are a completely different story. Both struggled at times to keep a lead and close out games.
In the first game, the Yankees bullpen suffered mightily. After C.C. Sabathia surrendered five runs, the bullpen came in to try and settle things down.
They did not do so. David Robertson, Chan Ho Park, Damaso Marte, and Joba Chamberlain fell short of expectations and gave up the final four runs to the Sox.
In the second and third game, it was the Red Sox bullpen that could not close the deal. The once reliable Hideki Okajima surrendered the game winning run to the Yankees, as they lost 3-2. In the third game, closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up a game winning home run to Curtis Granderson in the tenth inning.
The season series may come down to which bullpen can close out the game best. It will ultimately come down to the pitchers leading up to both Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon. Whichever bullpen can bridge the gap to their closer will win the season series.
John Lackey had the Yankees puzzled throughout his start in the third game of the series. His fastball was painting the black all night and his off speed pitches were devastating. Always regarded as a big game pitcher, Lackey certainly proved that last night.
In addition, he proved to the players and Red Sox Nation that he would stand behind his players. After Andy Pettite hit Kevin Youkilis in the helmet, Lackey came back and nailed Derek Jeter the next inning. Although maybe a bit premature, Lackey showed his teammates he has the heart to back them up.
Lackey has always seemed to torment the Yankees, especially when he was on the Angels. It is very probable Lackey will keep that up during the season series and continue to dominate the pinstripes
Coming off his worst season, David Ortiz wanted to get off to a good start to 2010. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Ortiz had only one hit in the season opening series against the Yankees.
His hit came in game three, an RBI single.
The night before, Ortiz had went off on reporters when he was being asked repeatedly about his slow start to the season.
Many believe that Big Papi is on his way down in his career. His impact will not be felt as strongly as it has in years past, and the Yankees pitching will benefit.
If Ortiz struggles the rest of the season, Papi may not be in Boston much longer.
If there is one player in this series that can have the biggest impact, its Joba Chamberlain.
He had an up and down series to begin the season, surrendering one run in his first appearance, but then dominating in the third game.
Which Joba will we see?
Often, Joba's emotions can get the best of him (see picture). Sometimes it works to his advantage, other times, it gets him tangled up in a hit parade.
Boston has predominately been a tough opponent for Joba. In 12 games, he has a 4.14 ERA, one of the worst splits against any team he has pitched against.
If he can stay consistent and bottle up his emotions, he will be the difference in this season series.