The London Series actually turned out to be a little more fun of a watch than what I was originally anticipating. The crowd was into every pitch, London Stadium had a phenomenal atmosphere with every home run, and the games themselves, while they weren’t great from a Red Sox perspective, were slugfests.
But if you took away one thing from the two-game set, it should be that the Yankees are the kings of the American League East and that’s the harsh reality that Red Sox fans should accept.
Saturday’s game, the first of the series, should have been the warning shot heard around the world. Rick Porcello, who sure, isn’t having a season worth remembering so far as his ERA sits north of 5.00, had his doors blown off early in front of an international audience. If you take a look at the box score, you’ll see 0.1 IP for the 2016 Cy Young Award winner. No, he didn’t come in for a rare relief appearance like he might have last postseason. He just couldn’t get himself out of the first inning of his London debut–let alone get the second out. If those fans love offense, well then I guess the “showcase” was a success. Now, the Red Sox didn’t roll over and let the Yankees steamroll them in that single inning as they answered right back and put up six runs of their own. But that wasn’t the end of the Yankees’ offensive clinic they put on Saturday afternoon.
As the Yankees lineup went around and around, they ended up tacking on 17 runs by the end of the fifth inning which to most, signified the end of that game as they took an 11 run lead on the defending champions.
The Red Sox had battled back and somehow made it interesting but it wasn’t enough as they dropped the series opener 17-13. If you’re a fan from England who tried to take in a baseball game for the first time, you must have thought this was incredible. A game filled with offensive explosions and gigantic men–most Yankees–putting the ball over the fence? What a game.
The second game, while it was trending in the direction of a Red Sox win, ended in a sweep of Boston, sending the team back in the standings to where they now trail the Yankees by 11 games.
After holding a 4-2 lead up until the seventh, it was another bullpen implosion that allowed New York to tack on–you should be sitting down for this–a whopping nine runs in that single inning. In a word, it was an appalling effort by Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes, and Josh Taylor. Two of those men at one point this year were thought of as reliable options for manager Alex Cora.
For a time during the aforementioned inning, it seemed like there was no end in sight as the potent Yankee lineup was clearly locked in.
And yes, while the Red Sox bullpen is an atrocious dumpster fire, they’re not the main reason as to why the Yankees are ruling the AL East this season. Today marked the team’s 17th blown save on the year which shows that if they had a somewhat competent bullpen, they’d at least be in the race near the top of the division. But unfortunately for them, the President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, thought that what they had was good enough to enter the year with.
There are deficiencies on the New York roster. For example, although their starting rotation currently ranks 10th in the MLB in ERA, it’s still difficult to fully buy into them.
But whatever the pitching does lack–which clearly isn’t much–they make up for in one of the deepest lineups I have seen in baseball in a long time.
It’s comparable to what we’ve seen out of Houston over the past couple of seasons. It was jawing to see dangerous hitter after dangerous hitter climb into that batter’s box after every hit or home run that was done by the previous man up.
While Rick Porcello was being beat down in front of a national audience on television, it became glaringly apparent just how strong and consistent the Yankee lineup is.
It starts at the top with one of the best signings in baseball over the winter. While everybody was enthralled with what was happening with the big fish on the market like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, former Colorado Rockie, DJ Lemahieu’s signing with the Yankees was one of the quietest, and most lethal moves made which has paid dividends for Yankee GM Brian Cashman. Lemahieu is hitting .395 alone for the month of June and .345 on the year.
And while one of the most consistent bats in the game most likely gets on base, you then have to battle with the likes of the behemoth Aaron Judge, one of the most powerful hitters in the game this season in Gary Sanchez, 2018 trade deadline acquisition Luke Voit and then after that’s all said and done, you’re next test is to keep their newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion in the yard.
With a lineup that looks like a fantasy baseball team in New York, the Red Sox only chance at remaining as a legitimate contender in the division–and at this point, it might just be a fight for a wildcard spot–Dave Dombrowski has to make a move to bolster their bullpen in any degree. July is here, and it came up fast. Now that the team has beaten the division leaders just one time in seven attempts, desperation should be setting in for the ballclub. And if it’s not, it might just be worth becoming sellers at the deadline because that says the urgency to win just isn’t there in 2019.
In every Yankee win over Boston, it’s only appeared as though they were the clear cut better team of the two. Which is something that shouldn’t be the case with a Red Sox roster that is littered with talent. But in 2019, MLB rosters that win are comprised of successful, and at least somewhat dominant bullpens. In 2018, the bullpen overperformed and had blown away expectations. In 2019, while there has been some overperforming–which has been a blessing for them–they’ve been atrocious overall.
As it stands today, the Yankees are one of, if not the most dominant team in baseball. They’ve overpowered the Red Sox in almost every attempt, and the second you become complacent in a game, they step on their opponent’s throat.
Is the season over for the Boston Red Sox? Don’t be ridiculous, of course not. But they haven’t shown any semblance of consistency–even if we’ve tricked ourselves into believing that they were returning to 2018 form at a couple of different points–they haven’t proved that they can be viable contenders with 2019’s best.
There have been plenty of points where the offense has gone mute, sure. But they’ve proven time and time again that they can score and put the ballclub in a position to win as we witnessed this weekend. We saw this on Saturday as they scored 13 runs and somehow managed to lose the game. But in the end, it’s simple. If this team wants a fighting chance not only in the divisional race but during the postseason, then bullpen help has to be added and it has to be added now.
We’re entering July and the Yankees have proven themselves as the kings of the American League East. Here in Boston, things have to change or they’ll be watching from home at some point in October.