New York Yankees (77-68) @
Boston Red Sox (81-64)
Masahiro Tanaka (13-4, 3.04 ERA) @ Eduardo Rodriguez (2-7, 4.71 ERA)
Sox Atop The Division
As we begin today, the Sox have a slim one game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. The Toronto Blue Jays are also two games behind. Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees are just four games out as well. It will be interesting to see how all four of these teams will finish out the year. Today, the O’s are hosting the Tampa Bay Rays, with Yovani Gallardo on the mound. The Blue Jays will send J.A. Happ to face the Los Angeles Angels tonight. There are 17-games left for the Sox, and all of them are within the division, beginning with the start of a four game series tonight. There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, and there are many things that could happen with these teams bunched up so closely.
Travis Shaw Back As Starting Third Baseman
Yoan Moncada was called up a few weeks ago and was inserted as the everyday third baseman. His first few games were good, but it quickly changed, and Travis Shaw is back as the everyday third baseman. In the seven games since seeing regular work again, Shaw has hit .350 with one home run. He also now is hitting sixth, hoping he can help jumpstart the offense, after two back-to-back lackluster games. Shaw has gone 2-for-9 with a home run against Masahiro Tanaka in his career.
Andrew Benintendi Back From Injury
A good sign for the Red Sox is the return of Andrew Benintendi. He hasn’t played a game since the 25th of August when he sprained his left knee. Benintendi is back earlier than expected, but it comes at a really good time for the Red Sox. In his last 12 games before the injury, Benintendi hit .310 with his first career home run. As well as hitting, Benintendi also plays plus defense.
The Pitching Matchup
Eduardo Rodriguez is coming off two quality starts, where he allowed just five hits. He flirted with a no-hitter against the Oakland Athletics, but couldn’t get the job done. Although he has a 1-4 record in the second half, Rodriguez has still posted a 2.76 ERA in those ten starts. He’s faced the Yankees twice since the break and collected his only win in the second half against them. In both starts, Rodriguez went seven innings with one earned run allowed. Obviously, this Yankees offense is very different than a month and a half ago, but the core hitters atop the lineup are still there.
As for Tanaka, he’s notched a quality start in both of his starts against the Red Sox this year. Tanaka is also coming off five straight starts where he allowed two earned runs or less. It should be a low scoring game all around.
1-Brett Gardner-L LF
2-Jacoby Ellsbury-L CF
3-Gary Sanchez-R C
4-Starlin Castro-R 2B
5-Billy Butler-R DH
6-Didi Gregorius-L SS
7-Chase Headley-S 3B
8-Rob Refsnyder-R RF
9-Tyler Austin-R 1B
1-Dustin Pedroia-R 2B
2-Xander Bogaerts-R SS
3-David Ortiz-L DH
4-Mookie Betts-R RF
5-Hanley Ramirez-R 1B
6-Travis Shaw-L 3B
7-Sandy Leon-S C
8-Jackie Bradley Jr.-L CF
9-Andrew Benintendi-L LF
Newly acquired Billy Butler will bat fifth for the Yankees against the lefty. Butler has struggled ever since leaving Kansas City, but has looked better this year. Against lefties, Butler has hit one home run with a .294 wOBA. Rodriguez could succeed against the bottom of this batting order, as Rob Refsnyder is hitting just .264 this year. Tyler Austin is playing in just his 22nd game this year, hitting .200 so far.
The Red Sox lineup is fairly the same as you would expect. Shaw has moved up a bit as Jackie Bradley Jr. is staying further down in the lineup. As stated earlier, Benintendi will be making his first start since coming back from the disabled list.
RED SOX LINKS
Steven Wright likely done for the regular season (Boston Herald)
Major League Baseball suspends San Diego GM for not properly disclosing medical records (including Drew Pomeranz trade) (CBS Sports)