London calling Sox, Yanks

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Never before has a Major League Baseball regular season game been played in Europe.

That will change with two of the sport’s most famous teams, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, headed to London and set to clash in a pair of encounters this weekend that will mark another chapter in this historic rivalry.

Baseball spectators overseas couldn’t ask for a better matchup. Aside from the obvious, it’s also occurring at a time where both teams are legitimate contenders. New York currently has a sizable five-game lead for first place in the American League East, while the Red Sox are the reigning world champions and very much in the mix for a Wild Card berth.

This will be the third series this season between the two AL powers, with the Yankees winning four of the first five meetings. The scary thing about that is that the Bronx Bombers are getting healthy again for the first time since the beginning of the campaign. They just recently welcomed back All-Star sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

Interestingly, the under cashed in four of those five matchups despite the high-octane offenses on both sides. Will that trend continue in a new country? Let’s look at the two impending contests.

Masahiro Tanaka vs. Rick Porcello (Saturday): The opener, airing early on FOX nationally, will pit two familiar foes opposite one another. For Tanaka, this will be his 19th career date with the BoSox. Porcello, meanwhile, gets the nod for the 24th time against the Yanks.

Tanaka has put forth an All-Star-caliber effort thus far and developed a trust with bettors due to his consistency, especially in big games. The 30-year-old has made five starts this season opposite currently-standing playoff teams (Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays) amassing an incredible 1.06 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in those outings. He has not yet faced Boston in 2019, however.

Meanwhile, Porcello hasn’t nearly been as consistent as his counterpart but he’s still effectively eating up innings more times than not. The 11-year-veteran has pitched Boston into the sixth inning or deeper in all but one of his previous 13 starts, holding the opposing lineup to three runs or fewer nine times within that stretch.

For his career, Porcello owns a desirable 3.32 ERA and 1.16 WHIP when facing the Yanks. UNDER

J.A. Happ/CC Sabathia vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (Sunday): As of Tuesday, New York was still undecided on its starter for the finale of this short two-game series but it will likely be one of these two veteran southpaws going for the Yanks in this nationally-televised affair on ESPN.

No matter who gets the nod, though, it may be a problem for the Sox. Sabathia is 5-1 against them the last three seasons (including this one) in eight starts, pitching to a 2.54 ERA in the process. There’s also Happ and his own magnificent career track record with the defending champs (9-4, 3.00 ERA), so it may be a pick-your-poison type scenario.

Boston’s starter, Rodriguez, also possesses pretty good lifetime numbers (5-4, 3.89 ERA) when taking on this particular opponent. But he’s basically been up-and-down these first three months — so much so that the over is a ridiculous 13-3 in the southpaw’s first 16 starts.

The Red Sox can get going offensively despite the potential challenge in the final London showdown. OVER

Last week: 0-4

Season: 19-20

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