BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have accomplished very little this season on the field, and they won’t be able to do much more as the season wraps up with a three-game set in the Bronx this week. Yet while the 90-loss Sox can’t do much to help themselves, they sure can make life difficult for the Yankees.
With three games left in the season, the Yankees are locked in a tie with the Orioles, who are in Tampa this week. If the Yankees and Orioles finish tied in the AL East, they’ll play each other in a one-game playoff. The winner will advance to the ALDS, and the loser will have to play the following day in the wild-card one-game playoff, the winner of which will make the ALDS and the loser of which will go home for the winter.
Obviously, both the Yankees and Orioles would prefer to avoid any one-game playoff. That’s where the Red Sox come in.
Last year, the Red Sox had their postseason hopes dashed. That was largely due to their own underperformance, but the wins of the Orioles and the less-than-inspired effort from the Yankees against the Rays played a major factor as well. This year, what the Red Sox do (or don’t do) this week will have a similar impact on those teams as well.
It’s not hard for Red Sox fans to remember the final day of the season last year, when they let a lead slip away in Baltimore while the Yankees were blowing a 7-0 lead after seven innings in Tampa.
The Yankees’ pitchers that evening weren’t exactly household names; Dellin Betances, George Kontos, Aaron Laffey, Raul Valdes and Andrew Brackman were among them. Starters Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones were also taken out of the game at various points by manager Joe Girardi. The Yankees, at that point, had already earned their own postseason berth, so they were within their rights to play the game however they wanted. Still, with the Rays desperately needing a win, and plenty at stake for other teams, the perceived lack of effort from the Yankees rubbed plenty of people the wrong way. And in the end, it was the final nail in the coffin for the Red Sox season.
That’s all in the past, but this year, the tables have turned a bit. If the Sox can win one or two in this series, they could force the Yankees into a one-game playoff that could end their season long before they want it to.
On Monday night, Clay Buccholz will get the ball for the Sox, with CC Sabathia on the hill for the Yankees. Jon Lester and Ivan Nova will be the starters on Tuesday, and Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Kuroda will start on Wednesday. There’s nothing on the line for the Red Sox, but if they show some pride, they sure can make an impact on the rest of the playoff field.