SportsPulse’s Trysta Krick catches up with For The Win’s Ted Berg and USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale, who give us their predictions for this year’s baseball playoffs.
BOSTON – Leave it to Missouri native Luke Voit to sum up feelings in the Bronx during Wednesday night’s champagne party inside the misty Yankee Stadium home clubhouse.
“I’m making all my buddies back home Yankees fans,’’ Voit said after delivering a key, two-run triple in the New York Yankees’ 7-2 AL wild card win over the Oakland Athletics.
“What’s not to like about us? We can pitch, we can hit, we feel we can do everything.’’
And now, they’re tasked with perhaps October’s steepest hurdle – getting past the 108-win Boston Red Sox in a best-of-five AL Division Series, beginning Friday night at Fenway Park.
Here’s a first look at the two rivals:
Red Sox: 108-54, first in AL East
Yankees: 100-62, second in AL East
Head-to-head in 2018
Boston won the series, going 10-9 against the Yankees, winning seven of 10 at Fenway.
Anyone watching the intense, seven-game drama of Yankees-Red Sox in Octobers 2003 and 2004 was witness to unforgettable history.
Boston overcame a 3-0 deficit in games to win the 2004 pennant, going on to erase “The Curse of the Bambino” by ending an 86-year world championship drought.
And that came on the heels of an October classic in 2003, as the Yankees wiped out a late Boston lead in ALCS Game 7, capped by Aaron Boone’s game-winning homer in the 11th inning off Tim Wakefield.
Of course, Boone is back in the Yankees dugout as their rookie manager, and “obviously (the Red Sox) are very tough at Fenway,’’ Boone said. “But I know our guys can’t wait to get there and try to get it done.’’
In 1999, the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in a five-game AL Championship Series.
And though it was technically a regular-season game, we submit the Bucky Dent Game – when his famous homer in a one-game playoff was critical to winning the 1978 AL East title for the eventual world champion Yankees.
How the Yankees will win
Boone can now use lefty J.A. Happ to potentially pitch twice in this series at Fenway Park, in Game 1 and in a deciding Game 5, if necessary.
Happ is 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 21 career games (20 starts) against Boston, and is 5-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) at Fenway Park.
Overall, the Yankees have the bullpen advantage with their superior setup men, and a lineup that set an MLB record this year for home runs.
How the Red Sox will win
Boston’s Alex Cora could have lefty ace Chris Sale available to start again after the opener, while David Price will be starting Game 2 at Fenway – keeping him away from the Bronx, which has been a chamber of horrors for the lefty.
The Yankees finally have a healthy lineup, but Boston boasts a deep lineup and perhaps the 1-2 AL MVP candidates in J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts, with the ability to wear down any staff.
“I think it’s going to be awesome. I think it’s going to be two teams going back and forth, battling it out and that’s what makes the postseason fun, playing against our rivals,’’ said Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks.
Some of the most memorable Yankees-Red Sox brawls in history.
Paul Wood Jr., Staff Writer