The Last Stand Of The Crimson Hose

Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees watches his game tying two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

Yes, this week-end's Red Sox-Yankees series in the Bronx seems less all-important than usual.

After all, the Yankees enter the series with a 12½-game lead over the Red Sox.*

* the fourth-place Red Sox

But you know, this series does matter at least a little.

It does matter to the Yankees, or might. They're far, far ahead of the Red Sox, but they're merely far ahead of the Rays and Orioles, both of whom are six games off the pace. If the Red Sox were somehow able to sweep the Yankees while the Rays or O's were sweeping their opponents ... Hey, this scenario is highly unlikely. Not impossible, though.

It does matter to the Red Sox, or might. They're far, far behind the Yankees, but they're merely far behind the legitimate Wild Card contenders. It does seem unlikely that they'll catch the Wild Card-leading Rays and O's ... but don't the Orioles still seem catchable, with their negative run differential? Don't the Tigers and the Athletics seem catchable? And yes, the Angels do seem like good bets to play well down the stretch and the Red Sox are four games behind them ... four games isn't a million, and anyway the Angels have some issues, too.

But if the Red Sox are going to do anything, they need to start soon. They don't need to sweep the Yankees to remain modestly relevant, but they probably need to win two of three. Because you know at least two of the other Wild Card contenders -- all of whom are currently well ahead of the Red Sox -- will win at least two games this weekend.

Fortunately, the Sox have some things going for them. In Friday night's game, their starter (Franklin Morales) has a lower ERA than the Yankees' starter (Phil Hughes). Saturday, their starter (Jon Lester) makes a lot more money than the Yankees' starter (David Phelps). And Sunday night, their starter (Josh Beckett) is a lot more famous than the Yankees' starter (Hiroki Kuroda).

Hey, I'm trying to invent a little drama here.

It's still early. But it's getting late fast.

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