The Red Sox limp into Yankee Stadium for a crucial four game series that could go along way toward determining whether they will remain a contender in the AL East. Unfortunately for Boston, they come to the Bronx without Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, two players who have come to define the new era of Red Sox nation.
Of all the injuries that the Red Sox have suffered, and there have been many, the most costly to date has been the broken left foot sustained by Dustin Pedroia. The Red Sox have been without Pedroia since June 25, during which time the team has gone 18-16 and experienced a decline of over one run per game (from 5.5 to 4.3). Although all of the drop in run production can’t be attributed solely to Pedroia (the team also played without Victor Martinez for 22 games in that span), the enormity of the loss can not be overestimated. In fact, despite missing 34 games, Pedroia still ranks in the top-10 among American League position players with a WAR of 3.6.
If Pedroia isn’t the player the Red Sox can least afford to lose, then it’s Kevin Youkilis. So, when it was announced that Youkilis would miss the rest of the season after opting to undergo thumb surgery, you couldn’t blame Boston if they were ready to throw in the towel. Before getting injured, Youkilis’ OPS+ of 155 and WAR of 4.2 ranked first and second, respectively, on the team, so his absence combined with Pedroia’s could be catastrophic. Is it quitting time for the Red Sox? The answer to that question could come this weekend.
In addition to battling injures, the Red Sox are also battling the schedule. With only 53 games left in the season and a seven game deficit in the loss column (six losses behind the wild card-leading Rays), the Red Sox must take at least three games in this weekend’s series. Anything less would only serve to take more time off the clock. The Red Sox have never been good at beating the Yankees late in the season, so coming into the Bronx and making such a statement would be a tall order for even a healthy Boston squad. As Yogi Berra is fond of saying, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, but it sure is getting late early for the Red Sox.
Yankees Record Versus Red Sox, By Month Since 1903