Red Sox vs. Yankees: Sox hit the road against surging rivals

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are in New York with a chance to step on New York's throat. On the flip-side, with a big series the Yankees could suddenly make the East a serious three-team race again.

The Yankees are not content to go quietly into that good night. Their roster depleted, they've seemed ready to fade time and time again, but even now, they linger, 2.5 games back of a playoff spot, and a not completely irrelevant eight games back of the Red Sox.

Let me tell you, that number can change a lot over the course of a four-game series.

For the Red Sox, it's a chance to put their age-old rivals away once and for all. For the Yankees, it's a chance to not only get over-the-top in the wild card race, but even, should the worst come to pass, to get back into the division. So it is that the Red Sox, winners of eight of their last ten games, will send Jake Peavy to the mound against Ivan Nova and the New York Yankees, winners of seven-of-ten.

Boston Red Sox (84-57)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Shane Victorino, RF
  3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  4. David Ortiz, DH
  5. Daniel Nava, LF
  6. Mike Napoli, 1B
  7. Stephen Drew, SS
  8. Ryan Lavarnway, C
  9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B

Starting Pitcher -- Jake Peavy

New York Yankees (75-64)

  1. Brett Gardner, CF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  5. Curtis Granderson, DH
  6. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
  9. Chris Stewart, C

Starting Pitcher -- Ivan Nova

It's a lineup typical of these Yankees. There's no reason it should look intimidating. Outside of Gardner, Cano, and Granderson, the whole lineup is about a mile past its prime, or was never any good to begin with. And yet...and yet...The Yankees, every time, manage to take husks of players past and rejuvenate them. And in the end we're left watching Mark Reynolds and Alfonso Soriano kill Felix Doubront.

But that's not what really makes the Yankees scary these days. Or not the majority of it, at least. No, that's the pitching which has allowed 557 runs on the year, right around there with the likes of the Tigers, Rays, and, yes, Red Sox. Ivan Nova may not be the first guy anyone thinks about when it comes to Cy Young award time, and given his relatively limited playing time, his name will not be coming up. But when he's taken the mound, he's pitched like he should be expected to be brought up in years to come.

Of course, the Red Sox have a pretty decent arm taking the mound too in Jake Peavy, so it might not take much to take this one down. But the same is true for the Yankees. In the end this game seems like it might be a little more susceptible to being decided by lucky bounces than the division-leading Red Sox would like.

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