Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yankees @ Red Sox Preview

Well... this is what we've all been waiting for. Five games in four days in late August with a gap of only a game and a half separating them in the standings. I plan on getting four hours of work done tomorrow morning. Then I'm going to do god knows what for a half-hour to avoid the score of the game, then I'm taking a late lunch at 1:30 to watch the first four innings or so, TiVo-aided. From there I'll basically watch game-cast for the rest of the afternoon, then come home, change, and head out to Fenway for the night game. I assume the rest of the weekend will be a blur. Good times...

Friday afternoon: Chien-Ming Wang (13-5, 3.84) vs. Jason Johnson (3-11, 6.26)
Um... I think the numbers pretty much speak for themselves on this one. I'm hoping for three things: 1) Warren was right about Wang, 2) Hinske keeps up his success against Wang (6-for-11, 2 HR, 1.765 OPS), and 3) reverse lock! I need to repeat this: it is going to be very hard to pay attention to work tomorrow.

Friday night: Sidney Ponson (4-5, 5.82) vs. Jon Lester (6-2, 4.09)
I consider it a personal gift from the baseball gods that I get to see Sidney Ponson pitch at Fenway for the Yankees on a late Friday night game in the second half of a doubleheader a day after the Yanks bullpen was decimated by the freakin' Orioles. Even the fact that MLB's stupid bereavement list rules give them a free pitcher (Brian Bruney) for the entire series can't dampen my spirits for this game. By the way, expect Jason Johnson to be sent down after the day game and Keith Foulke to be activated for this game.

Saturday: Randy Johnson (13-9, 4.92) vs. Josh Beckett (13-7, 5.02)
My incredibly over-rated "ace" is better than yours! I'd like to say that I know what to expect from this game, but I honestly have no idea. Johnson will either throw a gem or a complete stinker. If he's on for the first few innings, the Sox are in trouble. If he gets cuffed around the day after the doubleheader, then the Sox have a golden opportunity to make some serious noise in this series.

Of course, this all assumes that Beckett decides to throw something other than a fastball all game. Monday night against the Tigers, he was throwing it seemingly three out of every four pitches, and they just sat on it all night (Dmitri Young even hit a 3-0 pitch off the wall for a double). If he pulls that crap again in this game, I might drive back to Boston and slash his tires.

Sunday: Mike Mussina (13-5, 3.54) vs. Curt Schilling (14-5, 3.83)
Ah, now here's a pitching match-up. Two old guys who everyone had pretty much written off at the start of the season got off to great starts, but have tailed off a little bit lately. I do expect them both to step it up this weekend, and by this point they might have to if the bullpens are as worn down as they should be by this point. If any of these games is going to be a classic in a low-scoring way, it'll be this one.

Monday: Cory Lidle (9-9, 4.64) vs. David Wells (2-2, 6.06)
Lidle's been pretty good since the Yanks picked him up (1-2, 3.86), awesome, even, by AL standards. He was pretty good in July, too, so this isn't some fictional Yankee mystique. He was mediocre in his two starts against Boston this year, but the Red Sox were a different team then. Since this will likely be some kind of double-secret rubber game, the Yanks will need the late-season Lidle to show up.

Wells has been hampered by injuries, age, and girth all season, but his last two starts - both wins - have been better (5 ER in 13.2 IP). He's a little like Randy Johnson in that he'll either be on from the start, or he'll give up six runs in two innings effectively ending the game. With Wakefield out, the Sox have had to lean on Wells over the past few weeks, and he's been able to hold them up. This will be his biggest start of the year, by far.

This series as a whole is tough to read. I really think the Red Sox should be able to score some runs off of this pitching staff, especially after the Oriole game today and the Ponson-in-a-doubleheader thing looming tomorrow night. On the other hand, I have no confidence in 11 of the 13 pitchers on the Red Sox roster right now (10 of 12 by game time tomorrow afternoon), and the Yanks can rake. I want to say the Sox can take 3 out of 5 because of the home field, but I really think Boston's pitching is in too rough shape to make the hitting stand up. I'll say the Yanks take 3 out of 5, but of course, I hope I'm wrong.


Sully said...

Update: Craig Breslow sent to Pawtucket to make room for Hinske. Seanez and Tavarez survive, and the Red Sox now have no lefties in the 'pen. Is it too late to change my prediction???

Warren said...

So what will be higher - Wang's strikeouts, or the number of innings Johnson will last?

I'll vote for Johnson, 4 to 2.

Sully said...

I would make a similar prediction... maybe 3 to 2, or even 3.67 to 3. Johnson should just barely get it.

Sully said...

4.33 IP for Johnson... I think his lead is safe.

And on a related note, I would have left him in longer in the fifth to see if he could have pitched out of the jam. No need to burn out your long man (Snyder) now, in the first half of the doubleheader, when you're probably going to send Johnson to the minors after the game. Bad decision by Francona. What a shock.

Warren said...

Another shock - former Royals pitchers suck.

Sully said...

Especially when you leave them in to face the lineup twice, which has killed them all season long. I'm pretty upset about the roster composition, the management of the pitching staff, and the pitching itself, but it's hard to win a game when you go 0-for-13 with RISP. This sucks.