New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox: Weekend Battle for the AL East Lead

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIAugust 5, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 01: CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Chicago White Sox on August 1, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

Yesterday, the New York Yankees beat the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians.  With those results, both teams are now tied for first place at the top of the American League East with records of 68-42.

This gives even more meaning to this weekend's series in Fenway Park.  One of the two teams will come out of the weekend with a minimum of a one-game lead in the division.

The Yankees arrive in Boston losing eight of the last nine to the Red Sox.  They will have Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia going up against Jon Lester, John Lackey and Josh Beckett.

After this three-game series, there are two more series (both three games) remaining between these two storied franchises: one in Boston and the final series in New York.

While one series won't decide who wins the AL East, it can shift the momentum in favor of one team or the other.  This rivalry is chock-full of examples of an August series basically deciding the division.  1978's "Boston Massacre," where the Yankees came into Boston and took all four games with a combined score of 42-9, is just one prime example.

The key to this series will, as usual, be how each team's starting pitching handles the best offenses in baseball.  The pitching matchups are intriguing because neither "ace" will face each other, so we could see back-to-back days of great pitching on either side (instead of one great pitching duel).

The Yankees enter this series winning seven straight (and eight of their last 10) and doing so in impressive fashion.  The Red Sox enter the series with a record of 6-4 in their last 10 games.

I expect a tough battle between these two teams.  If the Red Sox can continue their dominance over the Yankees it can go a long way to helping them win the division.  If the Yankees can finally break through against the Red Sox, it just might give them the confidence to finish the season strong.

Either way, it should be a great series.