CC Sabathia has been super good at pitching baseballs this year. He's 17–7, boasts a stingy 2.99 ERA, and no longer inhales Cap'n Crunch by the box. The only major blot on his resume is his performance against the Red Sox thus far. Sabathia's 0–4 record and 7.20 ERA versus the Sox are almost single-handedly responsible for his not topping his peers in several major statistical categories, not to mention the Cy Young race. Of course, it's not just CC that's struggled.
The Yankees as a team are just 2–10 in four series against the Red Sox this year. They've surrendered 75 runs to just 46 produced. That's less than ideal. When you look at it, the Yankees' team situation kind of mirrors Sabathia's. They're a very good team that's stuck in second place almost entirely because of a season-long inability to handle the Red Sox. Pinstripe Alley expounds:
Wait a second, this is the same Yankee team that has, by far, the second best record in the American League? The same baseball squad that has outscored the rest of major league baseball with 722 runs in 132 games? The same team that has outslugged the entire league handily when it comes to the long ball (187 vs. Boston's 166, good for second in baseball)?
Total this all up, and we've got a team that seems like a first place team. While this series may not be very important in terms of making the playoffs, it certainly is important if the Yankees wish to make a run at the AL East title.
And that's pretty much the story. Despite all of the incompetence against Boston, New York could at least partially redeem themselves and skip into first place with a dominant series this week. It'll take a revelation from Sabathia and some life from a lineup that will likely still be short-handed.
In closing, consider this curious turn of phrase from Boston manager Terry Francona (seriously, raise your hand if you've heard this particular idiom before, because I have not and would like some explanation). From ESPN:
"Believe me, it's not like we go, 'We're going to lunch up on him,'" Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Aug. 6 after his club's most recent shellacking of Sabathia. "He's really good. He's had his way with a lot of teams, and we give him a good battle."
Whatever it means, one can safely assume that Sabathia and the Yankees ought to discourage Boston from "lunching up" on them tonight and thereafter.