The Boston Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention seemingly months ago, but have rolled into the Bronx determined to play spoiler, doing their best to stave off the Yankees’ all-but-inevitable clinching of a Wild Card berth. The Yankees have dropped three straight to the Sox and are eager to see them leave, but there’s one more game to be played.
It’s been another tough year for Yankee starter CC Sabathia, who has missed a handful of starts, conjured only occasional flashes of his former greatness and now finds himself needing a brace for his right knee, which is cranky after a couple decades of heavy-duty use.
On September 20 he managed to find that old magic, pitching 6 innings of 5-hit, 1-run ball in leading the Bombers to an 11-2 win over Matt Harvey and the Mets. But five days later he took the loss, giving up 4 runs in 6 ⅔ innings against the lowly White Sox, who rank last in the AL in runs, OPS and total bases. To be fair, he’d made it through 6 innings having only surrendered 2 runs, but then gave up a pair of solo homers in the 7th, before manager Joe Girardi could pull him.
The Sox, firmly entrenched in the AL East cellar from June 9 to September 26, are suddenly flying high, riding a 26-14 late-season resurgence that finds them in third place for the first time since May 24.
The Sox will send journeyman Rich HiIl to face the Yankees. Hill, who spent half of August with the Long Island Ducks, has come up huge since signing with Boston for the third time in six years. In three starts, Hill’s pitched 23 innings, allowing only 3 runs while striking out 30 and walking just 2. Whether he can keep it up remains to be seen, but either way it’s been a nice homecoming for the Massachusetts native, who has likely secured himself a modest payday for 2016.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
Watch the Boston Red Sox vs. the New York Yankees at 7:00pm ET Thursday on ESPN 2.