Now that Alex Rodriguez is back, Mark Teixeira is hitting like an MVP, and the starting rotation is (mostly) settled, the 2009 Yankees look like our best hope for a World Champion in the Bronx in half a decade. Rejoice!
There is, however, the not-so-small matter of the Boston Red Sox, who last night once again trounced the Yankees 7–0 at Fenway Park, battering maddeningly inconsistent starter A.J. Burnett for five runs in only two and two-third innings. (Heck, even the sagging, pallid David Ortiz hit a home run.) This season’s tally so far: Red Sox 6, Yankees 0. As the Associated Press pointed out this morning, that’s the Sox’s best start against the Yankees since 1912, when they weren’t even the Yankees, but the New York Highlanders.
The teams play a whopping thirteen more times this year, and things likely won’t be as bad as in 1912, when the Sox won their first fourteen against the Yanks (including the first game ever at Fenway Park). Even though the results of this season’s matchups amount to more of a statistical blip than an augur of the apocalypse — blame the “small sample size,” Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell said — it’s something the Yankees are going to be asked about every day until they finally win one.
Burnett is taking a lot of heat for his poor performance last night, but it’s unlikely anyone, Yankee or otherwise, could have beat Josh Beckett last night. The brash right-hander is sure to appear in Yankees fans’ nightmares throughout October. (We all remember that Beckett’s the Florida Marlin who shut down the Yankees the last time they sniffed the World Series.)
Considering how much more postseason success the Red Sox have enjoyed over the last few years, it’s ironic that the Yankees haven’t actually lost the season series with the Sox since 2004. Barring a dramatic pendulum swing, that’ll change this year. It’s not the 6–0 monkey the Yanks need to get off their back, either; with the loss last night, they’re now tied with the Sox for first in the American League East. Tonight, they’ll send the human line-driver that is Chien Ming-Wang to the mound. This spell, at least, might be over later rather than sooner.