Welcome to the real start of the baseball season.
The Red Sox and Yankees spent the first third of the season getting ready for a summer of clawing at each other for the AL East penthouse.
Now, starting tonight at Yankee Stadium, the best rivalry in sports resumes as the blood rivals open a three-game series that means a lot more than the seventh, eighth and ninth games of the season did.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
“It will be crazy,” predicted Sabathia, who starts the finale Thursday night opposite Josh Beckett.
Teixeira simply said, “It will be fun.”
Why shouldn’t it be crazy and fun? These are the two best teams in the American League with plenty of star power.
first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s adjustment from San Diego to Boston didn’t take longer than a nanosecond. He is third in the batting average race at .339, and has 12 homers and an AL-leading 50 RBIs. Fellow free-agent addition Carl Crawford hasn’t made up the stagger after a terrible start, but you can hear him coming.
David Ortiz is hitting .325, and the only lefty Joe Girardi has in the bullpen to oppose Ortiz, Gonzalez and Crawford is Boone Logan. Expect David Robertson or Joba Chamberlain to pitch to them in the late innings.
Derek Jeter steps in against lefty Jon Lester tonight 14 hits away from 3,000. Curtis Granderson has emerged as a force with 17 homers and 41 RBIs. Teixeira is second among AL hitters with 18 homers. Perhaps you have heard of Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera?
Of course, when it comes to fun and Red Sox-Yankees, that means winning because the stakes are so high.
Tonight when Freddy Garcia faces Lester the Yankees enter with a skinny one game lead over the Red Sox in the division. However, they are 0-for-3 against the Red Sox in The Bronx this year and 1-5 overall.
Helping the Yankees’ psyche is a 6-3 record on a three-city West Coast trip that concluded Sunday. The Red Sox arrive on a three-game winning streak after dropping four straight.
Between Lester and Beckett, the Red Sox will sub veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield tomorrow night for Clay Buchholz, who is dealing with a back problem.
In mid-May at the Stadium, Beckett dominated the Yankees in a 6-0 win, fanning nine and allowing four hits in six innings. The next night, Lester was knocked around for four runs and five hits in a 7-5 victory as the Red Sox completed a three-game sweep.
The Yankees went a woeful 3-for-22 (.136) with runners in scoring position during that series. Bartolo Colon, Sabathia and Garcia didn’t help. They went 0-3 with a 5.89 ERA.
After the Yankees won six of nine in Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim, Teixeira believes it’s time for the lineup to offer better support to a pitching staff that has been stellar in the rotation and bullpen.
“There is plenty of room for improvement on the offense side,” the switch-hitting first baseman said of the lineup, which leads the AL in homers (88) and RBIs (293) but is batting .251.
“It’s important to go home and play well,” Girardi said. “Our guys are feeling good. Because first place is at stake it will be exciting.”
Chances are good that when the Yankees and Red Sox meet again in early August at Fenway Park, first place still will be up for grabs.
“It really doesn’t matter when you play them, you just have to play good,” Mariano Rivera said.
Each team is doing that just in time for the real beginning of the baseball season.
joba chamberlain, cc sabathia, joe girardi, josh beckett, mark teixeira, first baseman, red sox yankees, freddy garcia, curtis granderson, yankee stadium, rsquo, baseball season, alex rodriguez, david robertson, carl crawford, adrian gonzalez, terrible start, david ortiz, mariano rivera, nanosecond