I suppose there is something apt about the Red Sox and Yankees being tied for first place on a weekend when the Yankees arrive in Fenway for a three-game series. Heading into these games that will decide first place, at least for the time being, in the American League East the Yankees have been absolutely mashing the ball. It seems like every time I look at the scores New York has put up a dozen runs on some hapless pitching staff. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been stumbling a little bit and are coming off of a split against the Indians in which scoring was a chore.
But I'm not convinced that form going into these series really makes much of a difference to either team. The Sox in particular tend to play to the level of their competition and almost always rise to the occasion of a series against the Yankees or most any other good team. Plus they get Lester and Beckett in this series, which represents about as good as it gets for a pitching staff that has been blasted by injury. The trade deadline brought Eric Bedard who went last night and did not set the earth on fire on the Fenway mound. But Bedard's arrival is perhaps overshadowed by Buchholz going on the 60-day disabled list and quite possibly being done for the season.
I suppose that in the eyes of some the playoff format diminishes the meaning of these games to some extent. After all, barring meltdown both the Sox and the Yanks are going to the playoffs. But I doubt you'll be able to convince the fans of either team or the players on either roster that these games do not matter. The rest of the country can claim to be sick of Red Sox-Yankees. And then more of them will tune in to these games than to any other up to now this season. Because with first place on the line, and the Red Sox against New York, these games matter.