The Bronx Bombers are in Boston Sunday for game four of a four-game series with the Red Sox, looking to avoid getting swept. The Red Sox have dominated this series thus far as they have won all three games with a combined score of 23-9. The Yankees are hoping to salvage one game of the set tonight in the Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week.
Starting tonight for the Yankees is Masahiro Tanaka (9-2 3.84 ERA), and for the Red Sox, it is David Price (11-6 3.97 ERA). The Red Sox are -112 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PM PST from Fenway Park in Boston.
What a statement the Boston Red Sox have made in this series. They haven’t just beaten the Yankees, they have beaten them down. This was New York’s opportunity to close the widening gap between themselves and the Red Sox, and instead, they have dropped every game of the series and have fallen to eight and a half games back for the American League East Division crown.
That lead is the second biggest division lead in all of baseball, and with a win tonight, Boston could have the biggest division lead in the majors. That is somewhat shocking as the Yankees have the third best record in the major leagues right now. The Red Sox are improbably running away with this race.
Boston will start David Price tonight, looking to finish off the sweep. Price has been all over the place this year for Boston. At times he looks like his old dominant self. Like in his last start, when he pitched eight innings of one-run ball against the Philadelphia Phillies. Other times he continues to disappoint. Like when he matched up with this Yankees team a month ago and got pounded for eight earned runs in just three and a third innings of work, and Boston got blown out.
One perk of pitching for the Red Sox this season is the fact that you don’t have to pitch all that well to win games much of the time. Boston has the best offense in the majors as they are first in batting average, runs scored, and slugging percentage. This mighty Boston offense has masked the fact that Price isn’t always very sharp. Despite his up and down results, the Red Sox have won twelve out of his last fourteen starts.
Masahiro Tanaka is another guy that looks unhittable at times, while terrible at others. Tanaka is pitching very well at the moment as he has hasn’t allowed a run in either of his last two starts. One of those starts being a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 24th. In July, Tanaka went 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA in four starts.
Against Boston this year, he has not pitched very well. In his two starts against the Red Sox, he has pitched a combined ten and a third innings, and he has given up ten earned runs. Tanaka will need his best stuff tonight if he wants any chance to hold back this Boston lineup.
This is a strange matchup. You have two starters on the mound that seem to win just about every start regardless of how well they actually pitch. Similar to Price’s stats for the Red Sox, the Yankees are 12-5 in games where Tanaka starts. Both offenses are great, and both teams have solid bullpens.
But right now, you would be crazy to bet against the Boston Red Sox. They are just on another level and are playing with a swagger that is very tough to beat. This team is 23-5 since the start of July. They are winning games at a ridiculous pace, and they have absolutely dominated this series.
I backed Boston twice already in this series in games one and two when they were underdogs. I laughed at the fact that the best team in baseball was somehow a home underdog in back to back games. And I laugh tonight that the Red Sox are basically even money. The starting pitching matchup is a wash. Yeah, both guys can be great, but they can also both be terrible. So, it is hard to say who is going to be better tonight.
But when you look at Price’s home and away splits, he is certainly a better pitcher in Fenway Park. His home ERA is a full run and a half lower than his road numbers. And Tanaka? His road ERA is half a run higher than it is at home. When all things seem to be equal, I am always going to back the hotter team or the home team.
And I get to do both tonight. The Yankees have gotten blasted in the media for their play in this series, but if you look back a couple of weeks, they are just 7-10 in their last seventeen games. So, this is something that has been brewing for a while. I think the Red Sox win tonight and it could be fairly easy.
I expect Price to be better than Tanaka and the Red Sox lineup to certainly outslug the Yankees. Give me the Boston Red Sox as small home favorites tonight in game four!