EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 27, 2009

Red Sox-Yanks series a sign of things to come?

The Boston Red Sox left early this morning for a flight to Cleveland where they begin a nine-game road trip. While it may have taken a few weeks, they appear to be everything everybody thought they were.

But this weekend's sweep of the Yankees — 5-4, 16-11 and 4-1 — had a little extra gusto to it. We learned a lot about the Red Sox and Yankees.

Here are 10 things:

1. Sox got lucky.

Let me explain. The Red Sox missed CC Sabathia, the Yankees' best pitcher, and New York missed Tim Wakefield, whom they have pretty much dominated in his career (Wakefield is 10-17 with a 5.04 ERA). And Alex Rodriguez, their stat machine, was not around either. I can only imagine how many RBI A-Rod would have had on Saturday night (a 16-11 Sox win). I still believe the Yankees will be there until the end, which means they will be a much better team in July, August and September.

2. Yanks won't jell 'til June.

Before we bury the Yankees, really their bullpen, we must understand a fact of life — high priced free agents need time to feel comfortable and become a Yankee. Mark Teixeira (averaging only .218 thus far) is a superstar. The Red Sox offered him $180 million, nearly $100 million more than they offered to any free agent/trade acquisition in team history (Pedro Martinez got $82.6 million over seven years). Teixeira will hit 35 homers and 125 RBI with the Yankees. Count on it. And Sabathia will probably be twice as good in the second half as he is in the first.

3. Stealing home is special.

It was only one run, but Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of home in the fifth inning, giving the Sox a 3-1 lead, basically took the steam out of Yankees. The fact that Ellsbury was called out for a curtain call by the sold-out Fenway crowd about a minute after the "theft" tells you how important it was. I was at Fenway when Billy Hatcher stole home on April 22, 1994. To this day, Hatcher, now a coach with the Cincinnati Reds, says Red Sox fans still bring up that steal. You can bet that opposing pitchers will always pitch from the stretch when Ellsbury is on third base from now on.

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