In a series of five games with the Red Sox getting a home, home, away, away, home advantage, it was crucial that the New York Yankees win one of the games in Boston. Thanks to Boston's insistence of starting David Price, the Yankees accomplished the split up in Boston. That sets the team up nicely as the series becomes a best two-out-of-three contest with two of the games occurring at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees could not have given the team a better chance to upset this American League Division Series.
But that means little. The team still has to go out and beat Boston, a great team, and beat them both games in New York. The Yankees will not want to play a fifth and deciding game in Boston. The Red Sox are very capable of winning one or both of the next two games.
The good news is that the Yankees can start Luis Severino tonight and J.A. Happ tomorrow. The former gives the Yankees its best pure talent on the mound to take a lead in the series. The latter is a lefty, something always useful in Yankee Stadium, and Happ should be better than he was in Game 1.
What could go wrong? Plenty. Severino could come out wild or flat and get banged around. He has lost his pinpoint command that he displayed in all of the first half of the 2018 season. He struggles to get through four or five innings with high pitch counts and lots of tension. He still shows flashes of what can make him so dominant. It would be great if he could be efficient and go deep. If he can do neither, that can be a problem.
What else can go wrong? It has been absolutely galling to see Nathan Eovaldi throw sixteen scoreless innings against the Yankees since Boston picked him up from Tampa Bay. Yankee fans have to be totally befuddled by that development since Eovaldi was a subject of derision when he pitched for the Yankees.
Eovaldi's improvement is not a fluke. His biggest problem when he worked with the Yankees was that his pitches had no movement to go along with his velocity. Thus, a team knew what it was getting and could pound him. Now, it seems as if everything Eovaldi throws has great movement and with his velocity, that makes things difficult for a team that swings for the fences like the Yankees do.
What the Yankees need to do is look for a good first pitch fastball to hit and be aggressive. Later in the count, look to the opposite field as he will be throwing cutters away from the right-handed batters.
The Red Sox have announced some lineup changes for Game 3. Brock Holt, Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez and Steve Pearce will be starting in place of Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, Sandy Leon and Mitch Moreland (respectively).
The Red Sox lose defense without Leon, Kinsler and Moreland, but Holt has always been a pain in the neck for the Yankees and Devers has more power than Nunez though they are both sub-par on defense. Pearce has been a Yankee killer since forever. Yankee fans hate that guy.
The Yankees have put themselves in a very good position. But the Red Sox are terrific and rarely beat themselves. While certainly better than coming home down by two games, the task is still great and the odds of the Yankees winning this series are still 50/50.