The Yankees will finally come home on Thursday. They finished off a nine-game road trip tonight with a sweep of the Jays. The Yanks finished the trip with a 5-4 record, a respectable record when you consider that it was goof enough to maintain their 2.5 game lead over the Red Sox who are in the midst of their own nine-game trip.
The Yankees bats protected Sergio Mitre tonight, who was far from good, but not nearly as bad as he has been. With the help of Alfredo Aceves he held the Jays down long enough for the Yankees to get to Marc Rzepczynski and create a comfortable enough lead that they could avoid using Mariano.
While the sweep is nice, especially considering they beat Roy Halladay in one of those games, but the Yankees now welcome in one of their biggest series of the season to date. The Red Sox roll in and the first match up will be young vs. old: Joba Chamberlain vs. John Smoltz.
Joba has been great from the start of the second half. He has a different presence on the mound now, not thinking as much and keeping a better rhythm rather than delaying every pitch.
Smoltz on the other hand has been far from good since he returned to the Red Sox. It's mostly the home runs that have killed him recently. He has given up six in his last 16.2 innings after not throwing up a single long ball over his first 20 innings. His velocity has been good though, giving the indication that he could be a step or two away from finding his groove and going on a run. With the way things are going for the Yankees against the Sox that groove is probably due to start tomorrow.
I wouldn't go so far as to say the Yankees have to win the series against Boston, but they need to at least split with them and put up a crooked number in the win column against Beantown.
Six of the eight games the Yankees have lost to the Sox have been at Fenway so the Yankees need to capitalize on their home games. Seven of the final 10 will be at the Stadium including three in late September.
Anyway, get the antacids ready. These games are always long and messy, plus you have to deal with Fox and ESPN broadcasters for half the games. These four-game sets can be just brutal.