Five Reasons Why The Red Sox Will Sweep The Yankees This Weekend
No, I did not incorrectly title this article.
The Boston Red Sox will sweep the New York Yankees this weekend, and I've got the goods to show why.
Not a believer?
Well, you wouldn't be wrong to assume that this would be unlikely, especially seeing how the Red Sox have played mediocre baseball throughout the 2010 MLB season, while the Bronx Bombers have done more than enough to show they are again the leaders of the AL East.
But I'll attempt to show you why pitching, timely hitting (keep in mind the word timely), clutch performers, small ball, and some unexpected heroics will all be key factors in this weekend's fiesta between formidable foes.
Factor #1: Pitching
I heard the other night on either ESPN or NESN (the Red Sox version of the YES network) an analyst say that the Red Sox rotation is the best in the world now that Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have their ducks all in a row.
Now that's a bold statement.
The fact remains the Red Sox have one of the deepest rotations in all of baseball with all of their starters healthy.
Here's a little side note-coming into the series against the Yankees, the four pitchers the Sox are throwing (Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Beckett, and Jon Lester) have a combined record of 36-19.
Not too shabby.
The major knock that's been accredited to the Yankees favor in the series has been Buchholz' inability to win against the Yankees.
Friday night changed that.
The pitching in this series will not be the determining factor, as both the Sox and Yankees have the pitching to negate one another.
(Just in case you were wondering, the Yankees four pitchers in the series have a combined W-L record of 32-22)
Factor #2: Timely Hitting
As many fans and analysts have already noticed, the Red Sox do not have the type of power in their lineup they had in 2004 and 2007, both World Series Championship years.
In particular, J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury have been less than stellar. Drew, with his mediocre-at-best .263 average with 12 home runs and 51 RBI has not been the player the Sox could expect from a man making $14 million per year. Ellsbury has missed all but 11 games this season entering the series, and has gone hitless since rejoining the club against Cleveland.
Yet, this series provides a ray of light at the end of the tunnel for these two players.
Throughout their struggles with injuries and lack of production, the Sox now sit five games back of first place in the AL East with their win over the Yankees Friday night, and Ellsbury accounted for one of those runs, albeit via a walk with the bases loaded in the top of the second inning.
Timely hitting from these two players, as well as other key players such as Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez will give the Sox a much needed boost to their offense.
Factor #3: Clutch Performance
When it comes to being the king of clutch hitting, not even the New York Yankees can deny mentioning the name David Ortiz.
After all, it was Ortiz's heroics in the 2004 ALCS in Games 4 and 5 that started the unforgettable four game comeback that propelled the Red Sox into their first World Series Championship after 86 years.
Ortiz, however, is not the same man he once was.
After Ortiz had his worst campaign with the Sox in 2008 after suffering a wrist injury that has forever changed the designated slugger.
Yet, while his power and stroke have slightly changed, no one dares to doubt Ortiz in Boston. He remains the Sox stalwart, and is still a presence to be feared in the heart of the Sox lineup.
If Ortiz can show a little bit of the same magic he had in '07 in a big series against the Sox' heated rivals, burying the Sox will be the least of the Yankees problems come next Tuesday. He's already shown this through the first game, belting a solo shot in the first inning of the series.
Ortiz is sending a message to the Bronx Bombers. Watch out.
Factor #4: Small Ball
In 2004, it was Dave Roberts.
In 2007, it was rookie sensation Dustin Pedroia.
This year, it appears as though Marco Scutaro will be the Sox's small ball boy. Much like Orlando Cabrera's role on the team in 2004, Scutaro is the under-publicized, yet ever-so-important role player on the Sox squad.
His statistics are sub par, batting a mere .278 with seven home runs and 37 RBI, but his role on the team is much more than statistics alone. He is a member of the Red Sox family.
And fans have welcomed Scutaro as such, even going as far as creating a song for the Sox newcomer. You can watch the video here.
The Sox are doing very well at shortstop, thanks in part to Scutaro's strong work ethic, and team chemistry. He will be an important player to the Sox down the stretch, as they've done a nice job not overworking him like former Sox shortstops Julio Lugo and Edgar Rentaria.
Factor #5: Unexpected Heroics
If you live outside of Boston, chances are you did not know the name Ryan Kalish prior to Friday night. If you did, you get a "Tommy Point." If you know what a Tommy Point is, chances are you lied about living outside of Boston.
Kalish is the exact definition of being an unexpected hero during this four game set with the Yankees.
His first home run in the major leagues couldn't have come at a better time, as it gave the Sox a three-run cushion that helped them defeat their rivals 6-3 Friday night.
"It's real exciting, but more exciting is the win," said Kalish.
Since Kalish has joined the Sox roster, he's batting a not-so-shabby .429 with the home run and four RBI's to boot through his first 21 career at-bats.
After the game, Kalish cherished the moment and said he would give the home run ball to his father. If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you should probably watch the Wizard of Oz. Skip to the scene where the Tin Man gets his heart.
Should the Sox continue to get great output from Kalish and other unexpected heroes, we could be talking about a three-team race for the AL East by the middle of next week.