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American League Wild Card Game Preview: The Rivalry Renewed?

The American League Wild Card Preview has been an insane piece to write up. Now it is down to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The “Rivalry” has a new chapter to be written!

To begin with, I’m just giving you some thoughts during the weekend leading up to the deciding games on Sunday. Think of it as a stream-of-consciousness kinda thang! We narrowly avoided “Chaos Ball” for the American League Wild Card game. Even if that would’ve been a ton of fun!

Thoughts from Saturday night leading into Sunday morning: This has been a paralyzing preview to write, as the race for the two American League Wild Card berths has been a dizzying one, to say the least. In my head, I have written somewhere near 26 versions of this single game preview. Simultaneously, this is a joyous and painful process.

Will my beloved Boston Red Sox have made it in the next 24 hours? Or, will the hometown Seattle Mariners finally be back in the postseason? Maybe Run Differential will beat out Fun Differential and the Toronto Blue Jays will be in? Do I get to type exclamatory words of joy watching the New York Yankees get kicked out of the party? Lastly, we could have a “Rivalry” game if the current standings (3:24 pm Pacific, Saturday) hold, which could be the most nerve-wracking. Imagine having to suffer Yankees fans strutting about the defeat of the Sox.

The Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays were eliminated on the last day.

Kyle Seager may have played his last day as a Seattle Mariner. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 48th home run and made his last push to challenge Shohei Ohtani for the AL MVP Award. Alas, those teams lost out on a postseason berth, leaving the Mariners to continue their unfortunate drought. It was an exciting last day of the season and we narrowly missed some serious “Chaos Ball,” in the event of a three- or four-way tie. Gladly, for this writer, it got a bit easier to preview the American League Wild Card Game!

The Boston Red Sox will host the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game.

During the 2021 regular season, the Red Sox barely beat out the Yankees 10 games to 9. Unfortunately, the last three looked like a second version of the “Boston Massacre.” Swept at Fenway Park two weekends ago almost felt like a death knell for Boston, but they pulled it out, winning their last three games against the Washington Nationals to secure the primary Wild Card spot. If you’re rooting for the Sox, you’re hoping that Giancarlo Stanton cools way down, as he hit .583 with 3 homers and 10 RBI during that last series against the Sox.

Starting Pitchers?!

It would be a safe assumption that Gerrit Cole will start for the Yankees, as he’s had a few days rest. Will that be a dark cloud hangin over Fenway or will he continue to “struggle” as he did in September (5.13 ERA)? For his career, Cole is 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA against the Sox. Just information to think about. On the other side, who will start for the Sox? Nathan Eovaldi last pitched on Wednesday the 29th, so it would look like he’s the guy Alex Cora would tab to take the mound on Tuesday. For the season, he’s 2-2, with a 3.71 ERA against the Pinstripes. Neither pitcher seems to be completely dominant against the other team.

No offense, but where’s the offense?

During their last series against each other, the Red Sox cam up limp. In three games over that weekend, they got outscored 19-9. May not be the biggest ass-kicking ever, but it was a big deal. Not only did J.D. Martinez go 2-for9 with only one RBI, but now he might be hurt, as he rolled his ankle in Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals. Luckily for the Sox, Rafael Devers has been hot lately… or hot enough to get the Sox into the postseason (two home runs on the final day to push the Sox forth).

On the Yankees side, the only two homers Giancarlo Stanton has against Eovaldi have come this season. That goes for Aaron Judge. His only homer off of Eovaldi happened this season, back on June 4th. Those big sluggers could be a big problem for the Sox pitching and the Green Monster, which has no business holding them back from going yard. The loss of DJ LeMahieu could be a problem for New York, as he’s out for the rest of the playing days with a sports hernia injury that requires surgery.

The Bullpens.

The Yankees would seem to have an advantage when the game gets into the late innings. Their relievers have a 3.56 ERA compared to the Sox relief arms at 3.99. From the seventh inning or later, the Yankees’ staff has what would appear to be a distinct level up on the Sox. The Yanks relievers, in that situation, have a 3.40 ERA versus the Sox 4.09. Matt Barnes has had his struggles lately, since August he has a 9.26 ERA with 2 blown saves and a 1.051 opponent OPS. Doesn’t bode well for the Fenway Faithful. Garrett Whitlock could step into Barnes’s role, but he’s also struggled lately (4.82 September ERA).

On the other side, Aroldis Chapman has been lockdown this last month, with 6 saves and a 2.03 ERA. In 19.1 innings pitched since the beginning of August, Jonathan Laoisiga has been almost unhittable, with a 0.93 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning.

Maybe some Fenway magic can rattle the Yankee relievers. Or maybe the Sox bats are going to struggle too hard to make a difference. I’m looking forward to a fun game on Tuesday.

Prediction? Predeliction?

I’m gonna be a “homer” of sorts and say the Sox are going to win 6-3, in 10 innings.

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