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Red Sox at Yankees lineup: They’d better win this one, because we’re all getting crazy

With good reason.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Go to hell, Voit.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Red Sox (103-49), who are going to win the AL East one way or another, look to do it the easy way tonight against the Yankees (93-58) in New York (7:05 p.m., NESN), and, in so doing, spare us another day of sky-is-falling takes from across Boston media spectrum.

About tonight’s game: Eduardo Rodriguez (12-4, 3.53 ERA), who was utterly lights out against the Yanks in the Bronx earlier in the year in the mist, will take on Masahiro Tanaka (12-5, 3.47 ERA), who has rebounded from a slow start to have a characteristically good year. He’ll give the Sox all they can handle. For much of the year, that hasn’t been a problem for Boston, but the bats have gone cold in September, and you don’t need me to tell you that no shortage of writers and analysts have begun to portend doom for playoffs.

I’m going to forego my usual structure here just to make a simple point: There are at least two ways of looking at a baseball season in totality, and those main two ways don’t lead me to panic. In the first, the regular season is judged independently of the postseason, and the ends (making the playoffs) justify the means. From this perspective, to which I largely subscribe, I have a hard time getting worked up over slumps at the plate and by the bullpen, not leastwise because bullpens are never good enough, almost by definition. The Sox could lose out and still finish with their best record in eons and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference once the postseason started except for “momentum,” which may or may not truly exist, but which has been on the Sox’s side all year up until now. That begs the question: Is the hitting and bullpen slump an aberration, or the new normal? More to the point, if you think it’s the new normal — especially on the hitting side — what possible evidence could you offer up that is more compelling than five months of data to the contrary?

The second way of looking at the season is that it’s championship or bust. I don’t subscribe to this theory, but I get it. In that case there’s really nothing to say until the Sox have won it all or been eliminated, and certainly no reason to get overly fussy with a division title all but assured. No doubt a large number of people disagree with this, and choose to see stormclouds on the horizon, but here’s my follow-up question: What does complaining now accomplish, other than give the complainant a chit to cash in if they lose in October (which, mathematically speaking, any team is likely to do) and discard if they win? It’s an act of positioning, one where fans are analysts try to outdo each other with logic games in place of the lack of control they feel over the on-field product. I should know — I’m doing it right now. Much like I can’t get too worked up over the Patriots losing to Jags in week two, though, you’ll excuse me if I don’t think the sky is falling with, no matter what else happens this year, probably the best Red Sox team I’ve ever seen up a whopping 10 wins on the Yanks on September 20.

That’s all. Lecture over. Here are the lineups:

Game 153 at Yankees

Lineup spot Red Sox Yankees
Lineup spot Red Sox Yankees
1 Mookie Betts, DH Andrew McCutchen, LF
2 Andrew Benintendi, LF Aaron Judge, RF
3 J.D. Martinez, RF Aaron Hicks, CF
4 Xander Bogaerts, SS Giancarlo Stanton, DH
5 Brock Holt, 2B Didi Gregorius, SS
6 Rafael Devers, 3B Miguel Andújar, 3B
7 Blake Swihart, 1B Gary Sánchez, C
8 Jackie Bradley Jr., CF Luke Voit, 1B
9 Christian Vázquez, C Gleyber Torres, 2B
SP Eduardo Rodriguez, LH Luis Severino, RHP