The Sunday Night game on Five is the marquee match-up of the week for British baseball fans. Whether you have been watching MLB for years or are tuning in for the first time, the excitement of the big Sunday night game and the banter between Jonny and Josh always makes for an enjoyable show. For the rest of the season, Iâ€™ll be writing a preview of the Sunday night game each week and we start with a battle between the AL East powerhouses.Â Â
Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees
Fiveâ€™s coverage begins at 00.45 with first pitch scheduled for 01.05.
Who would have guessed? The Red Sox versus the Yankees: thereâ€™s a series we havenâ€™t seen much of over the past few years. Itâ€™s not Fiveâ€™s fault and I dare say there are plenty of fans of the two teams in the U.K. who are more than happy for them to be the centre of attention yet again. For the rest of us, we can look forward to a game between two of the best teams in the AL, while hoping that it doesnâ€™t turn into another four hour, drawn-out affair.
The series so far
In the final game of a four game series, the Yankees will be aiming to earn a split after losing the opening two. Purists of the game will hail Jon Lesterâ€™s complete game shutout of the Bronx Bombers in the series opener as the highlight of the series so far. The astonishing play in game two, when a Kevin Youkillis line drive landed plumb on top of the left field wall (courtesy of Johnny Damonâ€™s glove) before trickling on to the field of play, will get the vote instead for those of us that like the quirkier side of the game.
The starting pitchers
The pitching match-up throws together a pair of pitchers who are chalk and cheese. Tim Wakefield is the crafty veteran who relies on his mesmerizing knuckleball. Joba Chamberlain is the precocious youngster who can hit 97+ on the radar gun. Itâ€™s a fascinating contest between experience and youth, a workhorse versus a hyped-up star in the making, guile versus searing heat. Wakefield has thrown his knuckler 80 per cent of the time this season, with a 73 MPH fastball and the odd curve flipped in for good measure. He took the loss last time out against the Rays despite giving up only one earned run.
Chamberlain will predominantly attack the Boston line-up with his fastball and slider, with an occasional curve and a change mixed in. Since moving to the rotation at the start of June, Joba has been on the end of five no decisions from his six starts, owing in part to the low pitch count that he has been tied to while making the transition from reliever to starter. He lasted just four innings in his most recent outing against the Rangers, striking out six but walking four.
Things to look out for
Manny Ramirez may be walking up to the plate in a suit of armour. He was hit three times in yesterdayâ€™s game, tying a Major League record. There were seven â€˜hit by pitchesâ€™ in the game overall.
Jason Giambi riding the bench? Heâ€™s got a batting average of just .183 in eighty-two at-bats against Tim Wakefield. Whether heâ€™s in the game or not, Iâ€™m sure his moustache will get a mention or two.
A Red Sox victory? Theyâ€™ve won five of their last seven games against their bitter rivals.
A Yankee victory? Theyâ€™ve won ten of their last fourteen series finales.