Viewpoint Sox on different level than Yanks
BOSTON — Although Aaron Boone did admit the Red Sox have established themselves as the American League’s best team — something as bleepin’ obvious as his bestowed middle name — the Yankees manager did offer one caveat.
“We know when we’re at our best we can beat them,” Boone said after his team was outclassed for their game in a row Saturday at Fenway Park.
Hmm. Maybe not. Not when the Red Sox are at their best on the same day.
Let’s not bother with the American League East title anymore. After Luis Severino tried to stick one in Mookie Betts’ ear on Friday night, about the only thing the Yankees’ ace succeeded in doing was sticking a fork in his team’s pennant hopes.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your 2018 wild card Yankees.
This means one game against Oakland or Seattle — let’s see how it goes — and maybe it’s at Oakland. And, if Boone’s Yankees survive those nine innings, this means we’ll have our first Red Sox-Yankees postseason series since 2004.
Hard to believe it already has been 14 years since pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra grounded out to Pokey Reese to complete the most historic comeback in baseball history. And 15 years since Aaron Bleepin’ Boone ripped out Boston’s heart in Game 7 of the ALCS.
There hasn’t been any heart ripping yet in 2018. OK, the Red Sox gashed the Yankees good on this August weekend, but by the time Rick Porcello had so thoroughly outdueled Severino on Friday night, the truth was the Yankees’ AL East title hopes already had been slowly bled a whiter shade of pale.
The remaining question now is will the Red Sox heart keep growing bigger and bigger, you know, Secretariat big into the greatest team in franchise history and one of the best in a generation of MLB clubs?
They already had run off a 78-34 record heading into another Trial of David Price on Sunday night. They will become the first Red Sox team to win 100 games since the institution of the 162-game schedule and are poised to break the franchise record of 105 by the 1912 Sox. You remember that crew. Smoky Joe Wood ran off a 34-5 record. Cy Young had already retired to his farm, but, shoulder permitting, Chris Sale has his shot at Cy’s award as does Mookie Betts at MVP and J.D. Martinez at the Triple Crown.
Crazy stuff. Yes, they’ve been hit with some injures, but certainly don’t figure to lose 16 of 17 in September like the Dodgers did last year. The question now is will the 2018 Red Sox be a great regular season team like the 2001 Seattle Mariners or a great regular season team like the 1998 Yankees? The Mariners won 116 games and went, pfffft, in the ALCS. The Yankees, won 114, and went on to history.
It’s a hell of a big-picture question and one that Red Sox manager Alex Cora wasn’t worried about three hours before Sunday night’s series finale against the Yankees.
“I’m prepared,” said Cora, bench coach for the World Series champion Astros last year. “We are talented. We know our goals. Baseball is great. I love it. But, honestly, when I get in my car when the game is over, the game is over. I got to change diapers.”
And maybe a few of those diapers belonged to the young Yankees. They came into Fenway Park with hopes of cutting into the Red Sox’ AL East lead and, frankly, soiled themselves.
The Red Sox bats hammered them for 15 runs Thursday. After Severino’s chin music — faux outrage after an 0-2 pitch got away from Porcello and hit Brett Gardner in the top of the first Friday — the Yankees went down easier than Lionel Ritchie’s Sunday morning. Porcello went Greg Maddox surgeon on New York. His breaking stuff was nasty. His control superb. He needed only 86 pitches in his one-hit masterpiece. Nathan Eovaldi followed with eight shutout innings Saturday, his splitter especially dirty.
Those infamous four-hour Red Sox-Yankees games? Porcello needed 2:15, Eovaldi only 2:33. And now with Price, who a horrible 2-6 with an 8.43 ERA in nine starts against the Yankees since joining the Red Sox, in position to, gulp, sweep, Cora just smiled when asked what it would mean.
“We’d be up 91/2 games up and tomorrow is an off day, man,” Cora said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good situation. We know where we’re at. There’s no hiding.
“Whatever the results tonight, it’s a great series for us.”
The injuries to Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are huge, of course, and until they return the Yankees’ lineup isn’t bursting with power. Yet the Yankees looked listless in this series. And when Boone posted a lineup with Shane Robinson in right field, Luke Voit at first and Gleyber Torres (struggling since coming off the DL) hitting cleanup, Twitter was lighting up with fan ire. What Aaron worry? He called Masahiro Tanaka the perfect pitcher to take the ball Sunday
“I hope [the team] looks at me as emotionally stable and understand I’m going to be as consistent and the same guy every day,” Boone said. “I don’t want them to ever look at me and anxiety comes from them through me.”
The sound you heard beneath your feet was George Steinbrenner rolling in his grave.
Boone was asked in a couple ways about calling a team meeting, aka a wakeup call. He spent a few minutes describing the various group and individual scenarios to communicate with his players. After all, communication with the Baby Yankees was a big reason why Joe Girardi was pushed out. Finally, Boone said, “I don’t feel a need to get the whole group together, but I wouldn’t ever shy away from it.
“I understand we’re in a tough spot. But I also understand and really believe we’re really good and know we’re really capable of doing special things. From the division standpoint we’re going to have to play lights-out brand of baseball. That’s apparent. I don’t put that past us.”
On a day when Cora talked about how people are always harping on how weak the Red Sox minor-league system is, he bragged about how Dave Dombrowski was able to parlay potential into Eovaldi, Ian Kinsler and Steve Pearce (four homers in the series) before the trade deadline. There’s a lot to the assertion by some that Dombrowski is a team builder and Brian Cashman is an organization builder. And in 2020, we may be laughing about how great the Yankees are.
But this is 2018.
And the 2018 Red Sox might be an all-time team.
The Yankees will have their chance to prove otherwise. In October.