Misery loves company, and the Red Sox will be a welcome sight for the Yankees in the Bronx.
Because this quick two-game series represents an opportunity for the Yanks to get back on track as both clubs have been mired in poor starts, and after these two teams met in the ALDS last season, nobody would've predicted their first meeting of the 2019 season would be under these circumstances.
The Yankees are 6-9 and have a well-documented laundry list of injuries, so they at least have an excuse for how their season has started. They began by losing four of six to the Orioles and Tigers, and in their last two series they were swept by the Astros and dropped a three-game series to the White Sox.
Boston doesn't have the injury woes its rival does. After winning the World Series the Sox have their own issues at 6-11 after losing 8-1 to the Orioles on Monday. Chief among them is the diminished velocity of Chris Sale, who recently received a five-year, $145 million extension. The Sox have the worst ERA among starting pitchers so far at 7.34.
And aside from the injuries, one of the big problems early on for the Yanks has been the performance of Sale's counterpart on Tuesday, James Paxton. They're counting on the lefty to thrive in the front-end of their rotation after acquiring him from Seattle, especially with Luis Severino not expected to return until at least July.
Over his last two starts, Paxton has allowed nine runs in 9.1 innings, surrendering 16 hits, five walks and three homers. He admitted to be putting too much pressure on himself to try to live up to lofty expectations.
"I think I've been trying to do too much, trying to be better than I am, and I just need to realize that I'm good enough how I am, or who I was in Seattle," Paxton told reporters on Sunday. "Talking to a sports psychologist, he gave me some words of wisdom that seem to really work for me, and I think will help me a lot."
Sale is looking to bounce back from allowing five runs in four innings last week. His Opening Day outing was disastrous as he was tagged for seven runs in just three innings. That set the tone for the Red Sox's 11-game West Coast trip to open the season, during which they went 3-8. They then split two series at home, a two-gamer against Toronto and a four-gamer against Baltimore.
The second game of this series will feature two starters who badly need a quality start in Nathan Eovaldi and J.A. Happ, with ERAs of 8.40 and 8.76, respectively.
So these two teams converge for the first time since that playoff series in October both desperately trying to get on track, knowing that the Rays are off to a blazing 12-4 start and have already opened up a 5.5-game lead in the AL East.
Perhaps it'd be an overstatement to say both teams need to win a two-game series in mid-April, but for two clubs aspiring to win a championship, such a series is as important as it possibly could be.