Boston Red Sox: Taking on the Yankees is late summer baseball at its finest

BOSTON, MA - JULY 15: Aaron Judge
BOSTON, MA - JULY 15: Aaron Judge /

The Boston Red Sox open up a series in New York against the Yankees on Friday as they look to extend an eight-game winning streak and their A.L. East lead.

Since the earliest days of my baseball memories, the Boston Red Sox rivalry versus the New York Yankees tops the list. The memories are some of the most cherished I have of baseball (and many more just as heartbreaking.)

For the first time in a few years, both the Red Sox and Yankees are playing meaningful baseball in August. Festivities are being resumed this weekend as the two teams prepare to play ten times over the next three weeks.

This is what late summer baseball is all about. Two teams battling for prime position in the A.L. East. (The only thing more nerve-wracking is on the occasion these teams meet up in October.)

A series win by Boston will only widen the gap and could begin the process of sinking the Yankees. A series win by New York will tighten the screws on what has been a back-and-forth season for both teams.

BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Chris Sale
BOSTON, MA – AUGUST 1: Chris Sale /

Boston is 3-6 against the Yankees in 2017. This includes splitting a four-game series right after the all-star break. The Red Sox scored a collective eight runs over this series and started a downward spiral for the team.

The offense slumped. Chris Sale and the pitching staff were dominating but coming up empty in the win column.

Fans scattered, turning against seemingly the entire organization. The trade deadline hit and–after little activity by Boston–many fans essentially conceded the A.L. East to the Yankees.

One thing, though: Nobody told the players.

Trade deadline as a turning point

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For two teams who are rivals, the amount of players who have played for both the Red Sox and Yankees is staggering. Notably it began with a small-time player named Babe Ruth. Over the years, names like Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, and the late, great designated hitter Don Baylor are names who contributed for both sides.

Dare we add recently acquired Eduardo Nunez to the list?

From 2010-13, Nunez played in 270 games for the Yankees. He was supposed to be their future, but instead wound up washing out. He bounced from Minnesota to San Francisco before ending up in Boston.

Nunez has simply been on fire since arriving. In 11 games, he is hitting .420 with an OPS of 1.222. His four home runs in a Boston uniform are one short of his Yankee season-high. He has six doubles and 12 RBI’s to boot while being utilized all over the infield.

Playing second and third base, Nunez–along with rookie Rafael Devers–has jump started what was once a stagnant Boston offense. During the winning streak, Boston is averaging 6.2 runs per game.

Since the day of the trade deadline, the Red Sox are winning duels, winning slugfests, and sometimes winning handily.

The Yankees, on the other hand, are heading in the opposite direction. They have gone 3-6 in August, scoring only eight runs in the six losses.

Next: Red Sox ace Chris Sale could contend for AL MVP

The time-honored cliche of “momentum” is clearly in Boston’s favor. Over the past two weeks, they have come together as a unit. Are they a wild bunch of idiots? No. But they switched into “cowboy up” mode as of late and are on their way to a lot more outfield dance parties in their future.