The Boston Red Sox (37-44) meet the New York Yankees (41-38) in the rubber match of their weekend series in the Bronx. The Red Sox evened the score last night by winning a classic pitcher's duel.
The Yankees sent prized rookie Masahiro Tanaka to the mound to build on his case for the Cy Young, but Jon Lester was up for the challenge. The lefty went 8 strong innings, surrendering only an unearned run. His valiant effort almost seemed wasted until Mike Napoli went deep off Tanaka in the 9th inning for the game winning run.
With the Blue Jays losing earlier this afternoon, Boston has a chance to get within 6 games of the division lead for the first time since June 1st. If they can shave a couple more games off that deficit before the All-Star break, they may just have a chance of getting back in this race.
- John Lackey (8-5, 3.45 ERA) gets the call for Boston. He'll be looking to atone for his last outing in Seattle, where he was shelled for 7 runs. When he last faced the Yankees back at Fenway in April, Lackey gave up only 1 run in 8 innings and had a season high 11 strikeouts.
- It's Mookie Time! The hyped prospect makes his big league debut, starting in Right Field. Betts hit a combined .345/.437/.520 in 359 trips to the plate split between minor league stops in Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year.
- Brock Holt will move back to 3B for the night while the slumping Xander Bogaerts gets a day off. Bogaerts is 2 for 31 on this road trip and batting .140 for the month of June.
- Speaking of slumps, how long will the Red Sox continue to stick with Stephen Drew? He's hitting .125/.155/.179 over 56 at-bats this season. He's here for his steady glove at SS, but while his defense is good – it's not that good. Not enough to make him above replacement level anyway, as his WAR stands at -0.4. When Bogaerts inevitably starts hitting again and reclaims 3B, you have to wonder if Holt will get a shot at SS (where he played in the minors) or if Betts will play some CF. They can afford to have a defense only player at the bottom of their lineup, but they can't keep using Drew and Bradley together unless one of them starts to hit above their own weight.
- Chase Whitley (3-1, 4.07 ERA) will start for New York. The rookie suffered his first career loss in his last outing against Toronto, giving up 8 runs. Prior to that he'd never given up more than 3 runs in a start, but that one hiccup against the Blue Jays inflated his 2.56 ERA by over a run and a half.
- The Yankees spent a lot of money this past off-season in reaction to missing the playoffs last year. Masahiro Tanaka ($22 million), Jacoby Ellsbury ($21 million), Brian McCann ($17 million) and Carlos Beltran ($15 million) were the big names that will cost New York about $75 million combined for this season. The production they have provided this year has collectively been worth 5.5 WAR (most of which comes from Tanaka, who has a 4.5 WAR). On the open market, a 5.5 WAR is worth between $30-35 million for one season, yet the Yankees spent more than double that on these four players.