Boston Red Sox: 10 Things We Learned from the Red Sox-Yankees Series
Coming into their three-game set in the Bronx last Friday, both the Yankees and the Red Sox had dropped their past two games. As is seemingly always the case, an eventful weekend of baseball ensued between the archrivals.
Led by a surging offense and solid starting pitching, Boston swept New York and finally reached .500.
It's the first time Boston has been at .500. The Red Sox haven't swept the Yankees at home since 2004. There was the Jorge Posada incident. More importantly, the Yankees have now dropped five in a row.
Not all series are created equal. While it's only May, this series was clearly a very important one for both teams. Everything seemed to go Boston's way while virtually nothing went right for New York.
What did we learn about the Red Sox and Yankees during this series?
1. Clay Buchholz's Got His Good Stuff Back
After a 1-3 April, Clay Buchholz is 3-0 in May. Buchholz allowed two runs over seven innings of work Friday night in the series opener.
Over his past two starts Buchholz has struck out 13 while walking only two, a great indication that he has regained the stellar form from last season that eluded him the first month of this season.
2. Josh Beckett's on Fire
As good as Clay Buchholz has been Josh Beckett has been even better: he hasn't allowed a single run all month.
On Saturday night Beckett (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO) bested CC Sabathia (6.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 6 SO), earning his first win in May after two hard-luck no-decisions.
Beckett's best stuff this season has come against the Bronx Bombers. In his two starts versus New York, Beckett has strung together 14 shutout innings, six hits, 19 strikeouts and three walks.
After an inconsistent and injury-plagued 2010, Beckett is certainly back on track in 2011.
3. Bartolo Colon's Still Grooving
The Yankees got their lone quality start of the series from Bartolo Colon (6 IP, 5 H 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO). With every outing, the all but forgotten Colon is proving that he truly is the real deal in 2011.
With no Andy Pettitte and a hurt Phil Hughes, Colon's unexpected success has been a shot in the arm for New York.
Colon's hot start has raised eyebrows. Last Wednesday, the New York Times ran a story about surgery that Colon underwent in the Dominican Republic last April. The gist of the story: Did Colon receive HGH injections from surgeon Dr. Joseph Purita?
HGH is banned by MLB, although the league does not test for the substance. The commissioner's office is, nonetheless, presently investigating the matter.
4. A-Gon Is Raking
After a lone dinger in April, Adrian Gonzalez now has eight homers halfway into May.
A-Gon's power outage in the early going was not setting off alarms in the way Carl Crawford's anemic April was, however it did not go unnoticed by fans or uncovered by media.
Gonzalez is really raking now. Gonzalez is hitting .321 with nine HR and 34 RBI, which has drawn early AL Triple Crown chatter. He looks extremely comfortable at the plate, hitting with confidence and power to the opposite field. He dutifully draws his walks when he gets nothing to hit.
In the three games against New York, Gonzo went 2-11 with two homers, three runs, five RBI and three walks.
5. Youk Is Raking, Too
While Adrian Gonzalez is having a terrific May, it was really Kevin Youkilis who lit up the box scores over the weekend. Youk went 4-14 with two homers, five RBI and four runs.
His two-run shot in the seventh on Friday proved to be the difference in game, while his three-run bomb in the third on Sunday brought Boston even after New York had jumped out to an early lead.
6. What's Up with the Yankees' Offense?
While the Yankees didn't get the greatest stuff from their pitchers against Boston, they were really done in by their cold bats.
This continues the trend from when the two teams squared off in Boston last month.
Entering Sunday night, the Yankees were hitting a mere .221 with a putrid .291 OBP versus the Red Sox this season. Their .291 OBP is the lowest team OBP of any Boston opponent so far this season.
The Yankees offense is playing way below expectations and statistical averages.
It would certainly not be a shock to see the pendulum swing the other way and see the Yankees' bats come alive when the Red Sox swing back through the Bronx early next month.
7. Russell Martin Can Handle the Rivalry
Russell Martin's been rolling all season, getting on base (.344 OBP) and hitting for power (seven homers, 22 RBI).
He didn't hit the lights out of Boston pitching this weekend, but he did swat his third homer against Boston in the losing effort in the series opener.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia's stroke to the right field porch in the eigth inning on Sunday night was the first homer from a Boston catcher all season. What's worse, Salty looks flustered in jams with relievers: see Daniel Bard's excruciating 1.1 innings last night.
As the Yankees pick at their wounds, the solid returns they have gotten on Russell Martin, especially in light of Boston's catching woes, is a victory that really has yet to even show it's true dividends.
8. Jorge Posada Hits Breaking Point
Slotted to bat ninth for the first time in 12 years on a skidding New York Yankees team, a slumping DH Jorge Posada hit a breaking point on Saturday night.
He asked out of the night's game in manager Joe Girardi's office roughly an hour before first pitch, ostensibly to "clear his head," he told reporters after the game.
The ensuing communication breakdown after the game, New York's fourth loss in a row, left Posada appearing hurt and disrespected. Meanwhile, scores of pundits called out the Yankee great, saying he overstepped the mantel afforded to him as a team veteran and a clubhouse leader.
Posada offered what seemed to be sincere apologies to both Girardi and Cashman at the park yesterday, which both accepted, and the matter, mercifully appears to be closed.
But beyond the media hoopla regarding Posada's breakdown, an honest question needs to be asked: what spot does a full-time DH hitting .165 have on any roster?
It will be interesting to see how things progress for the 39-year-old Posada as he looks to break out of his slump and settle into his new role on the only team he's ever played for.
9. Maybe the Red Sox Are the Juggernaut Everyone Thought They Would Be
Taking three in a row from the Yankees in New York was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Red Sox, and then some. Boston's sweep in the Bronx brought the team to .500 for the first time all year.
Everything seems to be firing on all cylinders for the Red Sox. And, indeed, many things went very well over the weekend. Great starting pitching, timely hitting and clutch bullpen efforts were abundant over the past three games.
While Boston looks very sharp right now, the struggles of John Lackey and, to a lesser extent, Daisuke Matsuzaka are a cause for concern.
More importantly, the Red Sox catching situation is still very much unresolved. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting better than he was in April, however pitchers, especially relievers, really appear to still be struggling to get on the same page with the young catcher.
Replacing Jason Varitek is no easy task, but it will be interesting to see how long GM Theo Epstein's leash on Salty is.
10. The Yankees Aren't as Bad as They Looked Last Weekend
Yes, the Yankees have lost five in a row. But going up against the trio of Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester is no easy task.
Buchholz and Beckett are on a tear right now, and Lester settled down after the Yankees pecked away at him early.
CC Sabathia didn't pitch well Saturday, however the biggest thing holding New York back right now is the lack of production from their big bats. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano are all in little slides right now. Curtis Granderson has been raking all spring, however even he can't key the Yankees offense all by himself.
The Yankees offense is potent and it needs to be for them to be successful. Their depth at starting pitching was a worry coming into 2011 and their has been little evidence thus far to suggest that it still isn't a pressing concern.
GM Brian Cashman will undoubtedly address this department in some tangible form or another as the season progresses.