Who needs series victory more in Yankees-Red Sox matchup?

Boston Red Sox's Andrew Benintendi, right, celebrates a three-run home run with Eduardo Nunez (36) as New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, center, waits during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Yankees and Red Sox are entangled in a three-game series with serious playoff implications. The first game on Friday went to the Yankees, 5-4, after they staged a five-run comeback in the eighth inning; Saturday’s Game 2 went to the Sox, who poured it on against Yankees starter Luis Severino in his worst outing of the season. Severino pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 10 runs (eight earned) on eight hits, including two home runs, walked two and struck out four in Boston’s 10-5 victory.

So with the rubber game of the series on tap for Sunday night in front of a national audience, and Chris Sale and Jordan Montgomery lined up to start, let’s look at why it’s important for each team to pick up a victory.

  • Red Sox

The Red Sox are in first place in the AL East by 4.5 games and are 9-1 in their past 10. It’s safe to say they are on a roll, but it’s also important for them to win Sunday night’s contest with their ace on the mound. Chris Sale is not only having a Cy Young-type season, it could be argued that he should be in the running for American League MVP. The Red Sox ace must shut down the Yankees to keep the Red Sox on their roll. He can’t afford have a bad game.

This season against the Yankees, Sale is 0-1 in two starts but Boston lost his second start as well. On April 27, he was on the losing end of a 3-0 shutout pitched by Masahiro Tanaka. On July 15, Matt Holliday hit a game-tying home run off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning to force extra innings; after six scoreless innings from both bullpens, the Yankees finally broke through with a three-run 16th and won 4-1.

Sale had a bad game two starts ago, Aug. 1 against Cleveland. He surrendered seven runs on eight hits in five innings. He also gave up two home runs — one to Brandon Guyer and one to Edwin Encarnacion. Boston won after Cleveland had one of the worst ninth-inning meltdowns in recent memory, but the Red Sox easily could have lost.

Sale needs to pitch like an MVP candidate and keep the Yankee hitters off the bases.

Boston Red Sox starter Chris Sale pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

(AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

  • Yankees

The Yankees have had a bit of bad injury news in the past week with both CC Sabathia and Tanaka going on the disabled list along with outfielder Clint Frazier. Before Saturday’s game, Montgomery was hit in the head with a batting practice ball off the batter of Boston’s Sandy Leon while signing autographs. Luckily for the Yankees, Montgomery is okay — he got a cut on his ear – and he will make Sunday’s scheduled start. Montgomery last started Aug. 5, throwing only 65 pitches in a win over Cleveland.

The Yankees are in a bit of a tough spot. They find themselves trying to scratch and claw their way back into the AL East race with Boston and simultaneously trying to fight off teams like Tampa Bay, Seattle, Kansas City and more in the wild card race. A win for them on Sunday night would be huge in both races.

One, beating Sale again would be a huge boost for the Yankees, who have gone 4-6 in their past 10 games. Two, beating the first-place Red Sox would pull them within 3.5 games of first in the AL East. Three, New York would push its season series record to 8-4 over Boston.

Both teams have reasons to place importance on Sunday’s game but the Yankees need the win more because of their involvement in two playoff races.

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