In a normal year, maybe you are excited for the Red Sox and Yankees to play each other the first time around. By year's end, though, you're a bit tired of the whole thing. You aren't allowed to be that way this year, though, thanks to the introduction of a second Wild Card -- those September games against New York will influence the playoff picture more than they used to, as playoff seeding is going to mean more than it did.
We don't have to worry about that just yet, though, as it's still at that early stage of the season, and it's the first time the Yankees have come to town. To celebrate Fenway's 100th anniversary, they're even playing dress-up, back to a time before the Yankees were The Yankees and it was the Red Sox who dominated the American League. Boston is in the midst of a three-game skid that followed a three-game win streak, so recapturing some of the glory of 100 years ago would be a quality way to start the weekend and kick off the season series.
Game 1: Ivan Nova (13 IP, 7.5 K/BB, 111 ERA+) vs. Clay Buchholz (11 IP, 1.4 K/BB, 46 ERA+)
Game 2: Freddy Garcia (10-1/3 IP, 2.7 K/BB, 67 ERA+) vs. Felix Doubront (10 IP, 3.3 K/BB, 83 ERA+)
Game 3: CC Sabathia (19-1/3 IP, 3.7 K/BB, 82 ERA+) vs. Daniel Bard (11-2/3 IP, 1.6 K/BB, 97 ERA+)
Whatever struggles Nova had late in spring training vanished in time for the season, and he's been as effective as ever to start the year. He'll take on Clay Buchholz this afternoon, whose early-season numbers are a bit misleading. Nearly all of the damage from his last start came in the first inning, before his command returned to him and he was able to sit the Rays down again and again. Watch for his command in today's start, as he'll need it present to get past this fearsome lineup.
Felix Doubront has looked good in his two starts, although he has started to tire towards the end of them. Given the Yankees' patience, he'll absolutely need to be efficient, or this will be a start that features a whole lot of Vicente Padilla or Scott Atchison. His opponent is Freddy Garcia, though, so it might not just be the Red Sox who have to go to their bullpens early.
CC Sabathia hasn't pitched great to start the year, but as with the Red Sox normally-dependable starters, it's early. He'll take on Daniel Bard*, who, while not facing wimpy lineups by any means, is taking on his first serious test of the season against a lineup who will attempt to wear him down and keep him from pitching deep into the game. He'll also have his ability to pitch to left-handed hitters tested, as the Yankees are loaded with them, and good ones, too.
*There have been discussions about starting Jon Lester against the Yankees on Sunday, given he threw just 80 pitches against the Rangers on Tuesday.
Both lineups are great, but both are missing key players. Brett Gardner is on the disabled list for his elbow, while Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are out for the Red Sox. Alex Rodriguez's power hasn't shown itself just yet, and neither has Mark Teixeira's. That's been fine for New York, though, as Derek Jeter (.373/.387/.644) and Curtis Granderson (.283/.377/.679) have been causing enough damage to the opposition on their own.
You know what you're getting from a Red Sox/Yankees tilt. Today's game will likely push the four-hour mark, the result will cause panic for one fan base or the other, and it'll be over-analyzed to the point where you get rivalry fatigue at the same time national fans complain about east coast bias.
It's great to have baseball back.