Yanks need to improve to keep up with Sox

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Yanks need to improve to keep up with Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
NEW YORK -- As the Red Sox left Yankee Stadium early Friday morning, a rain-delayed 8-3 victory in their back pocket and a two-game lead in the division at their back, it was as though they were -- literally and figuratively -- putting the New York Yankees in their rear-view mirror.

The rain-delayed victory, which saw them overmatched for six innings against CC Sabathia, only to snap out of their listlessness in the seventh with seven runs, left them with an 8-1 mark against their rivals this season.

That in itself felt ominous, as it invited comparisons to 2009, when the Sox enjoyed a similar early-season run of dominance only to see the Yankees turn the tables in the second half and coast to the division title. That season, the Sox were 8-0 until the Yanks won 7 of the final 10 games in August and September.

(As if to keep matters in perspective, Terry Francona referenced that exact scenario following the first two wins in the series.)

Both teams have about 100 games remaining, but will take a seven-week respite from one another before meeting again in August.

By then, the Yankees and Red Sox will have made -- or not made -- their deadline acquisitions and the dash to the postseason will be well underway.

As currently constituted, the Red Sox are far better positioned for now, especially with Thursday's news that Dustin Pedroia will not require knee surgery.

While the Yankees rotation has been far better than anticipated, questions remain about the viability of the likes of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia the deeper into the pennant race we get.

Phil Hughes has yet to return from the DL and while Ivan Nova gave a good accounting of himself on the team's recent West Coast swing, the general feeling is that feeble lineups fielded by the Mariners, A's and Angels was not a real test.

The Yankees have a stockpile of prospects that might yield a quality starter in return by July 31, but unlike a year ago when Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt changed teams in mid-season, there are no obvious front-of-the-rotation starters on the market. That's undoubtedly a consequence of the parity across the game, with no team playing .600 ball and few teams hopelessly out of contention.

Starting pitching options aside, the Yankees' biggest challenge is likely to be focused on their bullpen, where injuries have already struck.

Lefty Pedro Feliciano and righthander Joba Chamberlain are gone for the season. The suspicion exists, too, that Rafael Soriano could miss the remainder of the season, leaving only David Robertson and the increasingly mortal Mariano Rivera as trusted late-inning options.

Factor in an aging lineup with declining stars (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada) and players experiencing down seasons (Nick Swisher) and the Yankees have more questions than they have answers.

That's not to say that they won't be a factor when the Sox next meet them. But the onus is squarely on the Yanks to make improvements if they're to make the Red Sox' early-season dominance as meaningless as it turned out to be in 2009.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Yankees beat Blue Jays, Red Sox have chance to clinch AL East on Tuesday

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Yankees beat Blue Jays, Red Sox have chance to clinch AL East on Tuesday

For tonight, the Boston Red Sox can say "thank you" to the New York Yankees.

Despite the Toronto Blue Jays loading the bases with no out in the ninth, the Yankees hold on to beat the Blue Jays, 7-5. The result moves the Red Sox' magic number in the AL East to just one game. 

David Price will take the mound for the Red Sox on Tuesday night against those very Yankees with a chance to clinch the division. 

They can also clinch the AL East with a Toronto loss to the Baltimore Orioles. 

Dee Gordon homers leading off as Marlins mourn Jose Fernandez

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Dee Gordon homers leading off as Marlins mourn Jose Fernandez

MIAMI - Dee Gordon hit an emotional homer in Miami's first at-bat following the death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident.

Leading off the first inning Monday night against the New York Mets, Gordon pulled a 2-0 pitch from Bartolo Colon over the wall in right for his first homer of the season.

Gordon circled the bases slowly and was crying when he reached home plate. He tapped his chest and waved toward the sky, and then sobbed as teammates hugged him in the dugout.

Gordon took the first pitch batting right-handed, in tribute to the right-handed Fernandez. Gordon then switched to his normal left side.

Fernandez died Sunday morning, prompting the Marlins to cancel their game that day against Atlanta.