New York Yankees Versus The Boston Red Sox Sept. 14-16, 2007
Well, we're here, the final Red Sox and Yankees' showdown of the regular season. The Sox have a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL East, 5 games in the loss column, thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays' win last night in Toronto. I predicted that win, although Burnett was not involved in the decision. All the Red Sox want to do is avoid the sweep, but I'm thinking they will take 2 of 3 and be sitting pretty for the last 12 games of the season. Manny might play, probably will, and Clemens WILL start on Sunday. Here are the pitching matchups and my accompanying thoughts........
• Tonight: Andy Pettitte (13-8, 3.78 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (14-12, 4.44), 7 p.m., NESN, YES, ESPN
Pettitte has alway done well against Boston and did exactly that the last time these two teams faced off in August (was it that long ago?). Matsuzaka has been struggling of late, relying far too much on his fastball instead of mixing in his superlative off speed stuff. If he falters early, look for Clay Buchholz to be first out of the 'pen for a long relief appearance, for Tavarez just pitched in relief of Lester on Wednesday. Let's hope Daisuke returns to his dazzling self. Edge: NY, just.
• Saturday: Chien-Ming Wang (18-6, 3.69) vs. Josh Beckett (18-6, 3.27), 3:55 p.m., Ch. 61
A battle of two contenders for the Cy Young award, and quite a matchup. The Sox have to be patient with Wang and his effective sinkers instead of jumping on the first couple pitches of each at bat and grounding out to someone. Josh Beckett has pitched great lately, and all he has to do is be himself. The winner of this one will have an edge over the loser in the hearts and minds of the Cy Young award voters. Sabathia, of course, is still in the mix too, but not Saturday. All eyes will be on Wang and Josh. Edge: Even
• Sunday: Roger Clemens (6-6, 4.45) vs. Curt Schilling (8-7, 3.93), 8 p.m., ESPN
Clemens threw 40 pitches in a side session Thursday and declared himself fit and ready to go. But his season had been an up and down one. Schill has been throwing the ball better with each start and will be fired up and ready to go a quality seven innings. If he has the pinpoint inside and outside on the black control of his fastball he has enjoyed lately, watch out New York. Edge: Boston
That's the way I see it, Constant Reader. Now it's time to enjoy your Friday and let that anticipation grow and blossom into genuine excitement, worry and hope as the hours and minutes slowly tick towards 7:05 PM EDT. I'll be back with a comprehensive and hopefully joyful wrap up of game one first thing Saturday morning. And click on the title of this post for the Globe's Gordon Edes' incisive preview of this, a looming three game battle between two teams that clearly dislike each other. There are other words I could have used, but nah! We'll show those pinstripers which team is best when we're between the lines, on the field of play at our very own Fenway Park. And for those of you lucky enough to have tickets, rain will never be a problem through the entire weekend, with the exception of a few showers Saturday morning which will usher in cooler autumnlike air. Bring a sweater or a sweatshirt for Saturday's late afternoon contest. Or a light jacket. 'Tis the season, and the atmosphere will be very October-like, in the air AND in the minds of the Fenway Faithful and Red Sox Nation as well as Red Sox International, who will enjoy a Saturday morning of our Friday night Sox baseball. Be well, thanks for reading, and I'd love to read your comments on my game thoughts. GO SOX. Forever!!