The injury-ravaged Red Sox limp into this weekend’s clash 7.5 games behind their heated rivals. They desperately need good news on the field as the injuries continue to linger.
Projected closer Andrew Bailey has started to throw, but he is not expected back until August.
During their just completed seven-game road trip, which saw the Sox post a 2-5 record, they scored 14 runs against the Mariners and Athletics and batted .200. They were 5-for-44 (.114) with runners in scoring position and were limited to two or fewer runs in six of the games.
How the Red Sox perform this weekend will determine what the team does at the trade deadline.
Split the series, or take three out of four, and the Red Sox will reach the break in a place that will allow them to regroup and feel better when the second half begins on July 13 at Tampa Bay.
If the Red Sox are swept, the chances of winning the American League East will be extremely remote. If they drop three out of four, that will send them into the All-Star break on a mentally deflated note.
This weekend, the Red Sox lineup will be without Pedroia, Ellsbury and Crawford. Middlebrooks might return for one of Saturday’s games, if his hamstring permits. Boston will have to win with the likes of Nick Punto and Mauro Gomez, who is starting at third base on Friday though he is more comfortable at first base.
As the Red Sox and Yankees have shown over the years, anything can happen when the two teams meet. It would seem that the Yankees have the momentum and the advantage heading into the series, especially considering the Red Sox injury situation and their 2-5 road trip.
Yet maybe the fire of the rivalry is just what the Red Sox need to wake up. When Sunday’s game is wrapped up, and the All-Star break arrives, the Sox should be satisfied with a 44-42 record, which would mean a split in this four-game series.
Anything more will be a bonus.