MLB Odds and Predictions: Yankees at Red Sox Series Picks
by Alan Matthews - 4/19/2012
It’s the Duke-North Carolina or Michigan-Ohio State of Major League Baseball when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox get together, and the archrivals and ESPN staples play their first series of 2012 together starting Friday afternoon. Naturally, every game is on national television (MLB Network, Fox on Saturday, and then, of course, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball).
I don’t know if MLB purposely planned this series to start Friday – I’m guessing yes – but it’s the 100th anniversary of the first major-league game ever at Fenway Park, the oldest stadium in The Bigs (the teams will wear throwbacks). On April 20, 1912, the Red Sox beat the New York Highlanders 7-6 to christen the stadium. Unfortunately, the celebration of the park’s opening was a bit dampened by the sinking of this ship called Titanic a few days earlier. I heard they made some movie about it.
If you are wondering, the Yankees lead the all-time series 1,132-954. However, New York hasn’t won the season series with Boston since 2007, the year of the Red Sox’s last World Series title. The last three years each team won nine games apiece against one another, but last year the Red Sox won 12 of 18, including three-game sweeps at both Fenway and Yankee Stadium. New York had the last laugh in winning the American League East again and taking two of three from Boston in the second-to-last series of the regular season as the Red Sox were coughing up their wild-card lead to Tampa Bay. As hard as it may be to believe, Boston hasn’t won the division since ’07.
Yankees at Red Sox Betting Story Lines
Is it too early to wonder if new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine makes it through the season? He already had to apologize earlier this week for publicly criticizing the effort of Kevin Youkilis, a guy who is perhaps the most respected player in that clubhouse and probably plays harder than anyone. Oh, and after a two-game sweep at the hands of Texas Rangers this week, the Red Sox are on a three-game skid, sit at the bottom of the East and have the second-worst run differential in the A.L. entering Thursday.
It’s pretty easy to pinpoint the problem for Boston: pitching. The Sox rank last in the majors in team ERA (6.20), second-to-last in opponents’ batting average (.288) and third-to-last in WHIP (1.53). The club has just five quality starts in 13 games and the back end of the bullpen, Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves, has been a disaster. The team really misses projected closer Andrew Bailey, who is probably out until at least July. Melancon, who was good as a closer in Houston last year but was setting up Aceves this season, was demoted to Triple-A on Wednesday. He had a 49.50 ERA in four appearances. Melancon did not get an out in the eighth inning against Texas on Tuesday night, putting six runners on base and allowing three home runs. Of the 18 batters he has faced this season, 12 have reached base and 11 have scored. He has allowed five home runs. Pretty sure you or I could do better than that.
About the only good news the Red Sox have gotten of late is that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2011 AL MVP runner-up, won’t need surgery on his partially dislocated right shoulder. If he did, that meant his season was probably over. He was hurt last Friday and is out indefinitely.
The Yankees haven’t exactly been tearing it up themselves and they just lost a starter to injury. Left fielder Brett Gardner was placed on the disabled list with a right elbow injury on Wednesday night. He had a bruised right elbow and a muscle strain in that area as a result of a diving catch he made in the third inning of New York's 8-3 win on Tuesday over the Twins. Gardner was hitting .321 with two steals and a .424 on-base percentage this season. Some mix of Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez, who had been platooning at DH, will fill Gardner’s spot most nights, although Eduardo Nunez also could see a bit of time in left.
New York didn’t replace Gardner with an outfielder, instead calling up reliever Cody Eppley from Triple-A. He was claimed off waivers from Texas on the final day of spring training. The Yanks, as expected, are one of the better offensive teams in baseball despite some struggles from Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin, but their pitching also has been an issue.
Yankees at Red Sox Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: Yankees RHP Ivan Nova (2-0, 4.15) vs. Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (1-0, 9.82) – All Nova has done is won 14 straight starts dating to early last June, the longest current streak in the majors. In 2011 in two starts vs. the Red Sox, Nova didn’t get a decision but was knocked around, allowing eight runs and 15 hits in 10.2 innings. Buchholz made two starts vs. the Yankees last year before his season ended early, going 1-1 with 5.06 ERA.
Saturday: Yankees RHP Freddy Garcia (0-1, 6.97) vs. Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40) – Garcia probably is on his way out of the rotation once Michael Pineda comes off the DL, which could be in the next few weeks (although Phil Hughes also could be bumped). Garcia was 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA last year vs. Boston. Doubront, rather scarily, has been arguably Boston’s best starter so far this year. He has never started vs. the Yanks but faced them a few times in relief last year, allowing two runs in 3.2 innings.
Sunday: Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (1-0, 5.59) vs. TBA – Sabathia hasn’t been himself yet, although he did have a quality start last time out. The big lefty was rocked by Boston last year, going 1-4 with a 6.39 ERA. The Red Sox are going with either Daniel Bard (0-2, 4.63) or Jon Lester (0-2, 5.82). I’d be shocked if it’s not Lester. He would be on normal rest after pitching Tuesday, although he was crushed by the Rangers in that outing. But he only threw 80 pitches.
Yankees at Red Sox Betting Odds and Trends
According to our MLB odds, the Yankees will open at approximately -125 on the series lines with the Red Sox at -105. For Game 1, the Sox are -115 favorites with NYY at +105. New York is 2-6 on the road in its past eight vs. a right-handed starter. The Yanks are 6-0 in Nova’s past six starts in Game 1 of a series. Boston is 1-6 in its past seven vs. a right-handed starter. The Sox are 3-12 in their past 15 opening games of a series. But Boston is 5-0 in Buchholz’s past five starts. The Sox are 2-5 in Buchholz’s past seven starts vs. the Yankees.
Yankees at Red Sox Betting Prediction
Hard to back the Red Sox as they are 11-28 in the past 39 games dating to last September’s collapse. But I think this is the wake-up call they need, plus Thursday’s day off probably also helps as the Yanks have a quick turnaround for Friday’s game. And how can Boston really lose on Fenway’s 100th birthday? So I like Boston to win Game 1 and take two of three in this series.
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