Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

Given the talent the 2018 Red Sox are blessed with, it should come as little surprise that they are going to win the American League East.

The only real surprise is how easy it will be.

The Sox dealt a fatal blow to the Yankees this weekend, all but taking them out of the running for the division crown. In the long and storied history of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, few series sweeps have altered the course of a season as much as this one.

The original Boston Massacre in 1978 comes to mind, as does the Boston Massacre II in 2006.

It’s nice to be on this side of the baseball bloodbath, isn’t it?

How sweep it is.

The Yankees were supposed to fight the Red Sox tooth and nail for the division title until the very last day of the season. It turns out that the Yanks aren’t capable of that. Not even close.

New York has a better chance to miss the playoffs entirely than they do to overtake the Red Sox for the division lead. They leave Boston with a 2.5 game edge on Oakland for the top Wild Card spot and a five game lead on Seattle, the only other team in Wild Card contention.

As it stands now, the once-seemingly-massive final series of the regular season between the Red Sox and Yankees will mean nothing for the Sox. But for the Yankees, that series could mean the difference between playing the Wild Card game at home or having to travel out west to play for the right to turn back around and come to Fenway Park for the division series, where the Yanks are 1-6 this season.

For the 79-34 Red Sox, this weekend highlighted just how good they are. Their starting pitching has been unbeatable in recent weeks, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are two of the three best hitters in the American League, the addition of Steve Pearce has solidified their lineup while the acquisition of Nathan Eovaldi has bolstered their pitching.

They seem to have that unquantifiable “it” factor. They win the games they should and they win the games they shouldn’t.

The Yankees don’t have that feeling about them. Not at all.

Manager Aaron Boone appears over his head. His decision to remove C.C. Sabathia after the third inning of Thursday night’s game with only 77 pitches on his line directly impacted his team for the entire series. The inexperienced skipper was forced to use would-be Saturday starter Luis Cessa after his bullpen imploded in the fourth inning on their way to a 15-7 loss.

Boone and company became unraveled on Friday when they had Luis Severino throw at Betts in the first at-bat of the game. Severino proceeded to struggle again, allowing four runs in six innings, while the Yankees allowed Rick Porcello to shut them down in an 86-pitch complete game.

Aug 3, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (22) throws the ball during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Porcello is not Walter Johnson.

Boone then had to turn to rookie Chance Adams in his major league debut on Saturday, meaning the Yankees had little chance to come away with a victory. Eovaldi shut them down over eight innings of work.

Nathan Eovaldi is not Christy Mathewson.

If the first three games of the series weren’t proof enough that this Yankees team is in a freefall, Sunday’s debacle was one heck of a closing argument. The mighty New York bullpen, the supposed strength of the team, coughed up a three-run lead in the ninth and then lost the game in the tenth. Aroldis Chapman walked three, allowed the Red Sox to tie the game (with a little help from his friends Miguel Andujar and Greg Bird), and saw his career ERA against Boston balloon to over six.

The Yankees lost a game they never should have lost. This Red Sox team wouldn’t have done that.

So, with all due respect to those who lived through the collapse in 1978 and can’t bring themselves to say what they already know, let me say it for you:

It’s over.

The Red Sox will win the American League East. This Yankees team isn’t capable of catching them.

See you in October, New York.


You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.