AL Wild Card Preview and Prediction: Yankees vs Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Christian Vazquez #7 of the Boston Red Sox throws to catch a runner stealing during the eighth inning of a game against the New York Yankees on September 26, 2021 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Does it get any better than this if you’re a baseball fan? One game winner takes all at Fenway Park as for the 5th time in the storied rivalries history, the Yankees and Red Sox play in a do or die winner take all playoff game. So let’s take a look ahead to what should be a special night for baseball.

Pitching matters

Gerrit Cole will start for the Yankees, and he led the AL in wins (16) and K/BB ratio (5.93) and his 3.23 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 181.1 innings. He has a hamstring issue, and he did not pitch well against the Red Sox this season. His ERA was 4.91 pitching against Boston. With the hamstring issue, his last three starts have seen an ERA close to 8.

The Red Sox will counter with their ace  Nathan Eovaldi; unlike Cole, Eovaldi has torched the Yankees this season in his first five starts against the Yankees. His ERA was 2.01; the issue is the sixth start against the Yankees when he got pounded around the park and was gone in three innings. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo hit Eovaldi very well, which has to be a massive concern for Sox fans.

Injuries are a factor.

DJ LeMahieu is out with a sports hernia, and Gio Urshela is banged up after landing in the dugout Sunday. Boston slugger J.D. Martinez has an ankle injury. LeMahieu may be the most significant loss out of all three of these players because he hits Eovaldi very well and is consistent at getting on base. No Urshela would mean lots of infield issues on defense for the Yanks. For the Red Sox, Martinez hit an MLB-best 42 doubles and had 28 homers and is a patient and disrupting presence in an outstanding Boston lineup.

Prediction

This game is truly a toss-up, and the Yankees have a bullpen advantage, and they had an all-important sweep at Fenway just a couple of weeks ago. I think the Red Sox will be overly cautious in pitching to Judge and Stanton, and if that happens, look for a new Bucky dent to appear possibly. As for the Pitching matchup, I like Cole because he struggled with the Red Sox, but his best performance was in that Fenway sweep in the last few weeks. Ok, I guess I have to pick, and I am going Yankees 6  Red Sox 4.

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