After a commanding win in the series opener on Friday night, the Boston Red Sox (64-58) look to continue their climb up the AL Wild Card standings (and put another nail in their arch rivals’ coffin) in game two against the New York Yankees (60-62) on Saturday afternoon. First pitch from Yankee Stadium is set for 1:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised nationally on FS1. Righty Kutter Crawford (5-6, 3.80 ERA) gets the nod for Boston, while New York will turn to ace Gerrit Cole (10-3, 2.76) to try and stop their recent skid.
The Red Sox kept pace with the streaking Mariners with their win last night, remaining three games back of the third and final AL Wild Card spot. They embark on a brutal and potentially season-defining stretch after this weekend, as their next 10 games will come against the Astros and Dodgers. The Yankees, meanwhile, are sinking like a stone, now losers of six in a row and eight of their last 10. They’re now seven games back of Seattle in the Wild Card hunt, and now the question is less “will they make the playoffs?” than “will they finish with a losing record for the first time since 1992?” New York will wrap up this homestand with three games against the Nationals next week.
The Yankees enter as -166 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Red Sox at +140. The run total is set at 8.
Red Sox-Yankees picks: Saturday, August 19th
Out: SP Carlos Rodon (hamstring), SP Nestor Cortes (shoulder), 1B Anthony Rizzo (concussion)
Kutter Crawford vs. Gerrit Cole
Crawford has been perfectly serviceable since injuries to Chris Sale and Tanner Houck thrust him from the bullpen into Boston’s rotation, rarely going more than five innings but usually doing enough to at least give his team a chance to win. He’s pitched to a 3.46 ERA over three starts so far in August, firing five shutout innings against the Mariners to start the month and allowing two runs on three hits and a walk over 4.2 frames against the Tigers last time out. Crawford has been substantially better away from hitter-friendly Fenway Park this season, with a 2.13 road ERA compared to a 5.95 mark at home.
To say that Cole deserves better than this current Yankees team is a massive understatement. While just about everything has gone wrong around him — injuries to Rodon, Cortes and Frankie Montas, the total implosion of Luis Severino — Cole has been New York’s rock, leading the American League in quality starts with 18. His last time out was his entire season in a nutshell: Cole put his team in position to win, holding the Marlins to two runs over six innings while striking out six, only to watch the bullpen cough up five runs in the ninth to turn a win into a loss. He may not be the electric Cole of old — his fastball velocity and K rate and down near his Pittsburgh Pirates days — but he’s still the frontrunner to take home AL Cy Young honors. He’s faced Boston once before this season, allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings in a loss.
Yesterday saw an 8-3 final, but with Cole on the mound for New York today rather than rookie Jhony Brito, I’m expecting far more of a pitcher’s duel. As hard as it is to believe, this Yankees lineup has scored more than three runs in just six of their last 22 games, and I don’t expect them to buck that trend against a pitcher in Crawford who’s far more comfortable against righties than lefties. With Cole basically xeroxing two runs over six innings every time out, I don’t think New York will be able to put up the slack and push us over this number.
Pick: Under 8
Yes, I know that Cole is tough to bet against, but the Yankees are just 3-5 in the last eight games their ace has started. Boston has the substantial edge at the plate in this game, with a far deeper and more dangerous lineup, and I’m more than happy to back them as pretty substantial underdogs against a team that has a hard time scoring and has lost six in a row.
Pick: Red Sox +140