Regardless of what some financial institutions and Mark Teixeria would like you to believe, Yankees vs. Red Sox is different from any other rivalry in baseball. It's the reason that I could call this site "Fack Youk" and knew people would not only understand what it meant but agree with the sentiment. Aside from liking the Yankees, the next thing that we all have in common is hating the Red Sox. There's more mutual disdain and attention and anticipation, especially this time around. You don't see Cubs bloggers writing open letters to Carlos Zambrano that sound like this when the Cardinals come into town (even though Joba has never actually hit him).
For those waiting to hear the New Stadium sound like the Old House, tonight is the night. For the first time since he was outed for failing the steroid test in 2003, David Ortiz will be welcomed back to the Bronx with a raucous chorus of boos and "STER-OID" chants. For the first time since September 16th, 2006, the Yankees play host to the Sox with a lead in the division. But the desperation from that 0-8 start will be palpable.
It's not a do or die series for the Yanks; they could get swept again and still be just 1.5 games back with 7 head to head games still remaining. But it's most certainly going to feel like it. When a season series is as one-sided as this one has been, it feels like it is due for a correction. We went through it in early June, feeling that with each passing game that the Yanks we just due to take one. It feels that way now more than ever. The Sox are playing .500 ball away from Fenway and the Yankees are 35-17 at home. The Yanks are 20-10 over their last 30 while the Sox are 15-15. Everything but the season series favors the fellows donning the Pinstripes.
The biggest game of the series is tonight's. The Bombers need to get off the mat in the worst way, before the pressure keeps building, the fans start booing and things get ugly. The pitching match up tonight gives us more reason to be optimistic.
The Sox send John Smoltz, who has been disappointing since joining the team in late June. He's made seven starts and given up 29 runs in 36 2/3 IP, which translates to a 7.12 ERA. He's only walked 5 while striking out 30, but has allowed 50 hits and 6 home runs.
The Yanks counter with their hottest pitcher at the moment, Mr. Joba Chamberlain. He's been solid over his past 7 starts (4-0, 3.05 ERA) and downright dominant during his past 3 (3-0, 0.83). He's given up 8 hits in his last 21 1/3 innings while striking out 19. This is the Joba everyone was waiting for when he was struggling earlier in the season. He's made four career starts against the Sox, averaging 6 innings a pop with a 1-1 record. He struck out 12 in just 5 2/3 his last time out against them, but allowed 4 runs in the process. He's a better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium than he is at home, but as a notorious nose for the big moment.
Today is also a special day in Yankee history. As we mentioned last Friday, it's been 30 years since Thurman Munson passed away. Tonight marks the 30th anniversary of his funeral where Bobby Murcer delivered the eulogy and drove in all five runs in a 5-4 victory over the Orioles later that night.
We're bringing out the big guns for the song tonight; this is serious business. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from this gentleman later on tonight.
She's gonna hold me fast,
And I'll be home at last,
Not a loser anymore,
Not like the last time, and the time before.
All of the odds are, in my favor,
Something's bound to begin,
It's gotta happen, happen sometime,
Maybe this time I'll win.