Starting Friday in the Bronx, the New York Yankees host the blood-rival Boston Red Sox for a three-game, stretch-drive series. You probably should not care. That's because the Yankees and Red Sox are occupying the lowest rungs of the American League East and are not particularly close to playoff position.
The Red Sox come in with a mark of 63-58, while the last-place Yankees pull up with a 60-61 record and a minus-14 run differential. That's the latest in a season that the Yankees have been below .500 since 1995.
All of this is notable when set against the reality that the Sox and Yanks have been two of the most successful franchises of the current era (and of course for all-time). That brings us to these notes from the CBS Sports HQ research department:
- This will be the first time since the creation of divisions in 1969 that the Red Sox and Yankees will face each other as the bottom two teams in the AL East standings.
- They've faced each other 854 times since the AL East was founded, and in none of those games were they the bottom two teams in the division.
So, yes, we're in uncharted territory when it comes to these two flagship franchises. In the Red Sox's case, though, they're actually better off than they were last season. In 2022, Boston finished below .500 and in last place. The Yankees, meantime, won 99 games and the division title.
As for their current straits, the Yankees come in having lost five in a row and having gone 15-25 since the start of July. They're 6.5 games out of the final AL wild-card spot and behind three teams in that chase. Boston is 3.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the AL and behind two teams, the Blue Jays and Mariners. SportsLine Projection System predictably gives each team rather long odds of making the tournament field. The Red Sox check in with just a 2.3% chance, while the Yankees have a 2.8% shot. That the Sox are below the Yanks in part reflects the fact that Boston plays MLB's toughest remaining schedule, as measured by opponents' average winning percentage.
In that light, consider the upcoming series at Yankee Stadium to be, at least on paper, a respite of sorts. That's an unfamiliar notion, but that's how things are in the AL East in 2023.