Though perhaps not quite as potent as it once was, The New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox rivalry is one of the fiercest in sport and there is no question that the Pinstripers’ 27 World Series wins given them bragging rights.
But the men from New England have been the dominant force since finally getting the job done in 2004, with three titles to the Yankees’ one in the past 13 years, while they topped the AL East and finished nine games ahead of the fourth-placed Yanks in 2016.
But which club is better equipped for a tilt at glory this time around?
The Bronx Bombers have made the better start and are already four-and-a-half games up on their Fenway Park rivals but, with so many games still to play, things could easily change and, for those who like to bet on baseball, check out these free baseball tips and predictions for all the best odds and markets.
Baltimore top the division and it may well be that the big two are vying for a wildcard berth late in the regular season.
Pitching has traditionally been the Yankees’ strong suit but veteran leftie CC Sabathia has been struggling and there is talk of taking him out of the rotation. That would be huge blow to their hopes and heap further pressure on the likes of Michael Pineda, who has been at the top of his game early on with an ERA of only 3.12. Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have been solid but Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka has not been able to keep a lid on batters like last year. Aaron Judge did little last season to suggest that he would star in 2017 but the right fielder has been lighting it up at the plate with 13 homers and 28 RBIs by early May. With an average of .317 and 28 runs scored to date, it is clear that he is the main man for the Yankees at the plate. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks have also been productive with averages well north of .300 while combining for more than 40 runs. Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner make it a formidable line-up and it remains to be seen if the Red Sox can match it.
Mitch Moreland has the unenviable task of filling Big Papi’s boots after Red Sox legend David Ortiz finally hung up his bat at the age of 40. He has made a slow start after moving from Texas in the off-season but is a 20-homer man when at his best. Rookie Andrew Benintendi has taken up the slack with five home runs and 20 RBIs early on while Hanley Ramirez also has five long balls but, in the battle of power hitters, the Yankees have a distinct advantage. Xander Bogaerts has been a spark with an on-base percentage of .393 while catcher Sandy Leon has been solid, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval continues to disappoint and his long-term prospects at Fenway do not look good.
The fact that the Sox are hanging onto the coattails of the Yanks and Orioles in the East is mainly down to their pitching and, in particular, ace starter Chris Sale. The left-hander has a miserly 1.92 ERA and more than 70 strikeouts already, while Eduardo Rodriguez’s ERA of 3.07 compares favourably to his career of 4.12. Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz have provided some solid starts but knuckleball pitch Steven Wright’s ERA is a disastrous 8.25 and it is open to debate how long they will go with him.
The running battle between the Yankees and Red Sox could be one of the intriguing aspects of the MLB season and, at the early stage, it seems as though the men from the Big Apple might win it – but will either be able to go on to win the World Series?