It's that time of year again.
The Red Sox have beaten the Yankees in 10 of 13 games this year. For the Yankees, these upcoming games are must-wins.
In the first game of this three-game series, The Yankees came out on top, winning 5-2.
In a tight pennant race, Games 2 and 3 are still must-wins for both teams.
Here are five ways the Yankees can take those two games.
Adrian Gonzalez is Boston's best hitter.
If he's having a good day, the Red Sox are having a good day.
Last night, CC Sabathia stuck out Gonzalez three times in a 0-5 performance by Gonzalez.
Gonzalez struck out with runners on second and third, allowing Sabathia to keep the Yankees' 3-2 lead.
If the Yankees want to win this series, they should take a hint from CC and do everything they can to stop Adrian Gonzalez.
But there is a Red Sox player whom the Yankees should be even more afraid of—Marco Scutaro.
Scutaro is a true Yankee killer. This year, he's hitting .371 with six RBI against the Yanks.
Scutaro is a very pesky hitter and has an uncanny ability to foul pitches off. As a result, he sees many pitches in each at-bat.
Last night, Scutaro went 2-5 with a big RBI double in the fourth inning that brought the Sox within one run of the Yankees. Scutaro is a major threat to any Yankee on the mound.
It's very simple—if the Yankees can shut these guys down, they put themselves in a position to win the game.
Last night, the Yankees grounded into three double-plays.
Keep in mind that it's only possible to have nine double-plays in a game, and that's if you have a runner on base in every inning.
If the Yankees want to win this series, they have to stay out of the double-play. Double-plays are rally killers and a pitcher's best friend, and they leave your team in a much worse situation than they were in.
If you had first and second with no outs, now you have a player on third with two outs. They are the true rally killers.
Last night, the Yankees' three double-plays came with multiple runners on base.
Jorge's first DP came with runners on first and third and one out. His second came in the fourth inning with runners on first and second with one out. Then, in the seventh, Jeter grounded into a DP with the bases loaded and no outs.
For the Yankees to win this series, they need to stop hitting into double-plays.
The key to the Yankees offense is the home run.
The Yankees are the best in the league at getting the ball out of the park.
As a team, they have 188 home runs.
The Yankees have eight guys who have hit more than 10 home runs.
Last Night, Francisco Cervelli hit a blast over the monster to put the Yankees up 4-2 over the Red Sox.
At the plate, he clapped his hands in celebration and ran back into the dugout. This was not taken very kindly by John Lackey, who hit Cervelli with a pitch the next time he was up.
The benches were cleared, a base coach was ejected and play resumed. Cervelli reached second on a passed ball, and Cervelli ended up scoring.
Say what you want about the incident with Cervelli, but the Yankees got two runs out of it. If Cervelli hits another home run in this series, maybe he should be more excited.
With Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, the Yankees are not going to get multiple hits and string together rallies. It will be all about capitalizing on mistakes, and those guys are not going to make very many.
The Yankees need to hit home runs to win these upcoming games.
Pitching, pitching, pitching.
That is what this series will come down to for the Yankees.
The Red Sox have it, and the Yankees have very shaky pitching.
Phil Hughes will take the mound today with a lot to prove. He is 4-4 with a 6.46 ERA and has not returned to his 2010 18-8 form. Hughes will face a very tough Red Sox lineup.
One of the main problems with Hughes is his pitch count.
Hughes can throw more pitches than necessary and get himself out of games early. If Hughes can put the game in the hands of the bullpen after the sixth with less than four runs, he has done his job.
The Yankees are not very likely to put up big numbers against Beckett, so this game two lies solely on the shoulders of Mr. Phillip Hughes.
The Yankees need Hughes to preform tonight.
By now, everyone is tired of hearing about Burnett.
Nobody likes criticising a guy as much as Burnett has been.
A.J. Burnett is scheduled to start Game 3 at Fenway. That just can't happen.
When Burnett is on the mound, the Yankees don't win. He is 9-11 with a 5.31 ERA.
In his last game, he gave up nine runs on five innings of work.
People just have to face the facts. Burnett is not the pitcher he was two years ago.
I won't lie, I would like to see the guy string together a couple of wins and finish the season respectably, but I don't want to take my chances against the Red Sox.
if A.J. faces the Red Sox, the chances are that he blows up quickly and loses the game for the Yankees.
Whether A.J. is put in the bullpen or taken off the staff is a question for another time, but the Yankees have a better chance of winning if he isn't on the mound.
If A.J. didn't pitch, tomorrow's starter would either be Colon or Nova. Both of those guys give the Yankees a better chance of winning.
It's all about winning, and if the Yankees do these things they will win both games.
Now the question is: will they?