The long-awaited signing of J.D. Martinez signaled a new saga of contention between these two storied franchises. With the Yankees acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, they completed an intimidating three-headed leviathan, and the Red Sox were obliged to respond in kind. Stanton joins Aaron Judge, fresh off a record-setting home run rookie campaign, and mashing backstop Gary Sanchez. The mystique of this trio is echoed by a flame-throwing bullpen featuring Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and closer Aroldis Chapman. Conversely, Boston anted up for their answer to the void left by David Oritz in order to reignite the offense. Boston already boasts a prolific starting rotation, led by David Price and the whiff machine - Chris Sale, to go along with a core of talented youngsters which include the dynamic Mookie Betts, sweet-swinging Andrew Benintendi and the fearless Rafael Devers.
Plenty of people on Twitter from both fanbases are already attempting to size up these teams to see who has the advantage. The nice thing is that we won't have to wait long to watch these behemoths slug it out for real. The Yankees come to town on April 10th for a 3 game set. This series is part of a meaningful 10 game homestand as all visiting teams are AL East foes. Boston will host the Rays in their home opener on April 5th to begin a 3 game series, and after the Yankee series, the Orioles land for a 4 game layover culminating on Marathon Monday.
Now my zeal for this rekindling of "hatred" is tempered with a healthy dose of reality. Are we going to harken back to the days of the late 70s when Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson were punching the shit out of each other on a semi-regular basis? Nah... In this age of "It's not me. It's them." as we were reminded by Dustin Pedroia last season, players are much too friendly with each other to hit that crescendo of loathing. Once the go-to guy for me on this team, I now find myself in the process of reconciliation with regards to Dustin after some very unfortunate comments last year. What I did appreciate was the fact that both he and David Price acknowledged that they could have handled things a bit differently with regards to their shortcomings (insert apology here), so onward and upward.
This interview with Dustin Pedroia after a tough loss is priceless! 😂 pic.twitter.com/Q7aPjzHfJ9— Tennessse Baseball Network (@TN_Ballplayers) January 14, 2018
One factor the teams from the 70s and present day do share is a bevy of talent which should make for very entertaining baseball. I fully expect both clubs to wrestle over the division lead throughout the season which looks like a two-horse race.
In order quell my thirst for this epic renewal, I turned to my copy of MLB the Show 17. By looking around my blog, it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of this series. I spent the better part of the winter creating classic rosters which can be found over on Operation Sports if you are into that type of thing. I downloaded the most up to date roster set and cued up round one of Yankees/Red Sox 2018.
Of course, it's no surprise that the game was played at Fenway nor was the fact that I gave the ball to Chris Sale. I pitted him against New York's young gun, Luis Severino. Both starters were marvelous and hits were at a premium. Sale was particularly brilliant going 8 complete innings and striking out 7 batters. The bigger story is who he struck out as can be seen by the Yankees' boxscore below (I set this game up in playoff mode, and the Yankees were the wildcard winners, hence the batting averages you see there). Severino also was dealing, striking out 4 of the first 6 batters he faced and matched Sale's total of 7. Severino gave way to that magnificent Yankee bullpen after 6 innings of work. Neither starter was charged with an earned run.
Boston broke through in the fourth on an unearned run. Raphael Devers punched a long single into the left-field corner to lead off the inning, and Xander Bogaerts sent a ball back up the middle to put runners on first and second. Both Devers and Bogaerts collected 2 hits apiece in four trips. Dustin Pedroia then came to the plate and poked a lazy fly ball to Aaron Judge. Judge then reared back and fired the ball wide of third base. When you check out the highlight reel below, it's also amusing to watch Severino backing up third on the play. He innocently watched the ball roll past him and into the Yankee dugout for a two-base error. This run would be all the Red Sox would need, but it got even better.
In the eighth, the icing on the cake was provided by the newly clad Red Sox, J.D. Martinez. Chad Green came on after Tommy Kahnle blanked Boston in the seventh, and Andrew Benintendi greeted him by drilling a fastball off the Green Monster for a double. It was Benny's second knock of the game, and he reached base in each of his 4 plate appearances. He went a perfect 2-2, took a base on balls and was plunked by Severino. Martinez then pulled a single down the third base line and the ball just curled over the bag for an RBI single to complete the scoring.
This gave Sale some breathing room. He came out to begin the ninth, but his stay was very brief. Brett Gardner led off the ninth by laying down a perfect bunt to the third base side which brought the tying run to the plate. I had Kimbrel warming in the pen at the beginning of the inning and sent him in to dose the glowing embers as he'd run the gauntlet of New York's fiercest hitters. Sanchez was the first to face the nasty Red Sox closer and touched him up for a single to put runners on first and second. Then Craig hunkered down and demonstrated what made him an all-star in 2017. Kimbrel overmatched both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton mixing in that blazing heater and spike curveball for a pair of punchouts. Didi Gregorius represented the Bombers last hope, but he only managed a weak ground ball to first to put a bow on a 2-0 Boston victory.
I couldn't have drawn this one up better as a startup to this epic 2018 season clash. Yeah, it's virtual, but certainly a very realistic outcome. I look forward to discussing more successes here when the big boys from these two clubs start playing for real.