Despite a Lack of the Usual Fanfare, the Yankees and Red Sox Start a Crucial Rivalry Series

Derek Jeter

Maybe it’s the timing. Maybe it’s the mediocrity.

If it’s a combination of both, you might be hard-pressed to know that the Red Sox and Yankees were facing each other for a three-game series this weekend at Yankee Stadium.

While all three games will be at night and will be nationally shown on the MLB Network, Fox, and ESPN, you couldn’t help but notice that there isn’t much buzz.

For example the story in the New York Daily News maybe got a half page nestled between World Cup and NBA draft coverage. The story in Newsday wound up getting a quarter of a page opposite a game story about the Mets.

Up in Boston, a brief look at the Boston Globe’s website finds the more prominent headlines about the Celtics draft class, a front-office change with the Bruins. To find the Red Sox story you have to scroll down to the bottom of the page.

In the Boston Herald, their website also features the Celtics draft story. The Red Sox story is not down at the bottom of the page.

And while the stories in New York are some versions of advance stories, the stories in Boston are about Brandon Workman pitching after a suspension and Dustin Pedroia undaunted by a slump.

Still regardless of the lack of space or lack of questions, and according to Newsday there weren’t any, it’s a significant series for both teams.

The Yankees are trying to hold it down and trying to get beyond a couple of games over .500. Their high-water mark has been 15-10 and since then they’ve gone a mediocre 25-27, showing that every time you think they might start surging it doesn’t quite happen.

The Red Sox seem to be locked into that post-championship hangover that has impacted them worse than the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

For example, through June 26 in 2005, the Red Sox were 44-30 and 2 1/2 up on the Orioles. Three years later, the Red Sox were 49-32 and one game up on the Rays.

So far, the Red Sox are 36-43, eight games behind Toronto and they rank 13th in batting average (.243), last in slugging (.369), 12th in home runs (59), and 13th in runs (301). They’ve been over .500 three times and since the last time at 20-19, Boston is 16-24, mostly because of a 10-game losing streak last month.

On offense the Yankees have not been much better. Two years after “too many home runs” was a trending topic on Twitter, Yankee fans are wondering where the power is. Despite spending heavily on Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann, they are ninth in batting average (.253), ninth in slugging (.380), 10th in home runs (63), and 12th in runs (311).

Pitching hasn’t been much better for the Yankees.

The Yankees are eighth in ERA at 4.05 mostly because of Masahiro Tanaka. Throw out Tanaka’s 2.11 ERA then the Yankees have a 4.40. They’ve been getting strong performances late in games with leads thanks to Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and Adam Warren but getting to them with a lead is an issue on nights when Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda do not pitch. The rest of the current rotation is Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, and Chase Whitley and they are a combined 7-9 (Whitley’s 3-1) with a 4.86 ERA.

Boston is better on the mound ranking fourth in ERA at  3.78 and fifth in strikeouts. Jon Lester and John Lackey have done their part despite having a record that might not reflect it since they’re a combined 16-12. However, like the Yankees, the Red Sox have issues beyond that since Jake Peavy is 1-6, Clay Buchholz has been injured, and Felix Doubront is finding his way.

The perception is that the Red Sox will get going once the offense catches up with the pitching, which will prevent them from becoming sellers at next month’s trade deadline despite the belief by some they should.

More often that not, interesting things happen when the Yankees play the Red Sox, but neither team seems to have some of their magic from previous years.

Maybe that will change and maybe the next series in New York will have greater significance right after Labor Day.

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Larry Fleisher
Larry Fleisher has covered sports in various capacities for nearly 15 years. He is a writer/editor for the Sports Xchange and has also worked for SportsTicker and Metro New York newspaper. Larry also has worked on many NBA broadcasts doing stats, on several TV shows as a background actor. He is a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association and the Internet Baseball Writers Association.