After a long offseason of waiting, the New York Yankees will make their first appearance as World Series champions on Sunday night at Fenway Park, where they will take on their hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
New York Pitcher: LHP CC Sabathia will be back for his second season in pinstripes. He arguably was good enough to win the AL Cy Young Award last season, and if not for the fact that he was roughed up in his final start against Tampa Bay, he would've won 20 games and probably won the honors. Sabathia finished 2009 at 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA. However, he's only 5-5 all-time against the Red Sox, though he does have a respectable 3.29 ERA against them.
Boston Pitcher: The Sox will counter by sending RHP Josh Beckett to the bump. Beckett pitched like a Cy Young candidate during the first half of last season, going 11-3 with a 3.35 ERA before the All-Star Break, but he settled down and went just 6-3 with a 4.53 ERA in the second half. Even though the former Florida Marlin is a solid 9-5 against the Bronx Bombers, he'd probably rather forget that he ever has to face them. Beckett has a lofty 5.33 ERA against the Yanks and allowed eight runs in as many innings of work against them in his last outing against them on August 23rd of last year.
Handicapping Notes: Both of these offenses can mash without a doubt, as New York topped the majors in run production last year at 5.65 runs per game, while Boston was third with 5.38 runs per game. The Red Sox are going to have a few new faces in the fold this year, as 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Marco Scutaro, and CF Mike Cameron are all new additions to the lineup. The Yanks, as always, found ways to try to improve their team in spite of the fact that they lost DH Hideki Matsui, LF Johnny Damon, and CF Melky Cabrera following their World Series run. In their spots are DH Nick Johnson and OF Curtis Granderson. LF Brett Gardner will probably start the year in left field as a part of a platoon.
Series Notes: Last year, this was a bloody rivalry that looked like it was going to be one-way traffic for the entire season. The Sox won the first eight meetings between these arch rivals, only to ultimately lose nine of the final ten over the course of the year to ultimately split the season series right down the middle at nine games apiece.
The Final Word: The Red Sox might be 7-3 against New York in Beckett's L/10 starts, but the one time that Beckett matched up with Sabathia, it was CC that got the job done for the men in pinstripes. It's not often that you see the Yankees as underdogs, particularly with Sabathia on the bump, and while you have that opportunity, you just can't pass it up. In fact, the only time last year that the ace of this staff was a pup was, you guessed it, in Boston against Beckett and the Red Sox.
Prediction: New York Yankees +100 at Diamond