The Yankees enter play on Wednesday night tied for third place in the AL East standings with a 49-44 overall record, seven games back of the division-leading Red Sox. Boston owns a 57-38 mark but it owns just a slim half-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Can the Red Sox add to their advantage in the AL East race with a win at home in the series opener against New York on Thursday?
Montgomery needs more run support from Yankees' offenseLeft-hander Jordan Montgomery is scheduled to toe the rubber for the Yankees in their first game at Fenway Park on Thursday. The 28-year-old is 3-5 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 starts but he’s flashed some life as of late, allowing three earned runs or fewer in five straight appearances. Thursday’s outing will be Montgomery’s second consecutive start against the Red Sox. He tossed six innings of three-run ball in a quality start against them last Friday but took a tough-luck loss on the night. In fact, Montgomery has lost each of his last four starts despite allowing three runs or fewer on each of those occasions.
For the second straight season, the Yankees’ left-hander has posted strong peripherals but has struggled to keep runs off of the board. He has fanned 9.00 batters and walked just 2.73 batters per nine innings of work while cutting his home run rate down to just 1.09 HR/9 this season. Montgomery has also limited opposing hitters to just a .235 batting average, tying the best mark of his career. Yet, he’s suffered some bad luck and has stranded just 69.1 percent of his baserunners as a result.
Montgomery has seen Boston twice already this year and turned in quality starts in both of those appearances. However, he finished 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in those matchups. The Yankees’ southpaw has posted a 1-2 record and 4.24 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox, including a 0-1 record and 5.95 ERA in four starts at Fenway Park.
Houck searching for more success versus YankeesBoston has yet to officially announce a starter for Thursday’s series opener but right-hander Tanner Houck is expected to take his regular turn in the rotation. The 25-year-old is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four games (two starts) this season. Houck’s last appearance came against the Yankees when he allowed just one hit in three scoreless frames to earn his first career save.
While Houck doesn’t have a lot of experience in the big leagues, he’s flashed potential on the mound in his first 30 ⅓ career innings. The Red Rox right-hander has fanned 10.68 batters and walked just 3.26 batters per nine innings of work for this career and he’s cut down his walk rate to just 1.35 BB/9 so far this year. Houck also generates ground balls at a healthy 54.1 percent clip, which helps him keep the ball in the ballpark (0.68 HR/9 in 2021).
Tanner Houck, Filthy Sinkers. 😷 pic.twitter.com/mN1eknGGgT— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 17, 2021
The Red Sox right-hander has split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation and will be making just his sixth career MLB start on Thursday. He’s made two career appearances against the Yankees, going 1-0 with a save and allowing just one unearned run on two hits in nine combined innings of work. According to Baseball Savant, current Yankees are batting only .105 in 23 plate appearances off of Houck heading into Thursday’s series opener.
- Yankees are 5-11 in their last 16 during game 1 of a series.
- Red Sox are 6-1 in their last 7 Thursday games.
- Red Sox are 9-2 in their last 11 home games.
- Red Sox are 23-8 in their last 31 during game 1 of a series.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Houck has posted some encouraging numbers in his first two career appearances against New York coming into this game. He seems to have taken a step forward on the mound following his first cup of coffee in the big leagues last year and owns a career 1.78 ERA in seven games (five starts). On the other hand, Montgomery has had his fair share of troubles against the Red Sox, especially at Fenway Park, where he owns a lifetime 5.95 ERA. Take Boston to come out on top at home against the Yankees on Thursday evening.
Full-Game Total Pick
Despite the fact that this game features two high-powered offenses, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this matchup turn into a low-scoring game. Houck has yet to allow a run in two career appearances against the Yankees. Meanwhile, Montgomery should come into this start with some added confidence after allowing three runs or fewer in each of his previous five outings overall. Run support has also been a problem for the Yankees’ lefty as of late. He’s received a total of five runs of support over his previous four starts combined, including none in each of his last two appearances. Take this game to stay under the projected total on Thursday night.