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Sunday Night Baseball on Five – Yankees vs Red Sox

by Matt Smith

Five logo

Yankees versus the Red Sox?  Live on Five?  Well, I guess it was a full three weeks since we last saw these two teams face each other in the Sunday Night game, so it must be time for another.

It’s ESPN’s fault, I know, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable.  Yes, they are the biggest two teams with the most stars.  Yes, it’s a great sporting rivalry.  Yes, the game should be a good one (if a bit long) and there are plenty of sub-plots to get your teeth in to.  Can’t we see some other teams every once in a while though?

My calls will fall on deaf ears, I know, so we may as well just get on with looking forward to the game as best we can.  Five’s coverage begins at 01.00 with first pitch scheduled for five minutes past. 

The series so far

It’s been all New York so far.  Heading into the series on the back of a six-game winning streak, the Yankees entered Fenway full of confidence, personified by their young starter Joba Chamberlain.  Matching up against Boston’s ace, Josh Beckett, Chamberlain put on a masterclass pitching seven shutout innings while striking out nine and giving up just three hits.  Beckett had a strong performance as well giving up just one run, but with his team mates unable to give him any run support, the former Marlin picked up a loss as the Yankees prevailed 1-0.   The Bronx Bombers sealed the series victory yesterday by jumping on knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for six runs on their way to a 10-3 win.

Starting pitchers

After facing Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte, the Red Sox batters may fancy their chances more against reclamation project Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.02 ERA) tonight.   Ponson is an interesting character to say the least and Yankees GM Brian Cashman caused a few raised eyebrows when he picked him up in June to fill a hole in the rotation.  Ponson wore out his welcome with the Rangers only two months into 2008 season, even though he had been surprisingly effective on the mound (4-1 with a 3.88 ERA).  The man from Aruba works with a sinking low nineties fastball, slider, curve and occasional change.

The Red Sox counter with arguably their most consistent pitcher so far this season.  Jon Lester (8-3, 3.20 ERA) has moved from being known as a great story (battling through cancer to pitch the final game of the ’07 World Series and throwing a no-hitter against the Royals in May) to simply being known as a very good young starter.  The lefty compliments an early nineties four-seam fastball with a high eighties cutter, curve, slider and a change.  He picked up his eighth win of the season last time out against the Mariners, pitching 7.1 shutout innings.

Things to look out for

  • Beanings – the Yankees keep gunning for Kevin Youillis and the Red Sox are more than happy to fire fastballs at A-Rod’s head in retaliation.
  • Birthday greetings?  It’s A-Rod’s birthday today.  I’m sure Boston will have a present or two in store (see above).
  • Robinson Cano to keep on hitting – He has a season high eight-game hitting streak on the go and has been scorching the ball of late.  After a miserable first three months to his ’08 season, in which he ‘hit’  just .242/.280/.358, Cano has rebounded by hitting .380/.410/.582 so far in July.

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