Tuesday night's loss was a bad one, in every respect. A.J. Burnett pitched terribly, the offense took the night off and David Ortiz got off his career respirator to hit a big home run. The fact that it was the sixth time that it's happened to the Yankees against the Red Sox this season made it all the worse.
The fact that they are still tied for first place is a huge mitigating factor, but no one who has been around this rivalry thinks that six straight losses isn't on Yankee minds. That doesn't mean they have a mental block, as some might have you believe, and it isn't that the Yankees have become the Washington Generals to Boston's Globetrotters. No, it's a much simpler explanation.
The Red Sox have played better in those six games. That's it, that's the whole explanation, and it is an explanation that can lead to two straight Yankee wins to close out the series. It starts with Chien-Ming Wang tonight, which is fitting the way that Wang's season has gone to date.
If Wang goes out and throws six or seven strong innings Wednesday night and keeps the Red Sox to two or three runs, the Yankees will have a great chance to win the game. And if he does that the whole book on Wang will change as the season lurches forward. Right now he's holding onto his spot because of past glories, and that will only last so long in a business that relies on winning to be successful. A good start in Fenway, though, makes everything different, even if it is just one June game when your team is already in first place.
One good start by Wang leading to one win over the Red Sox and those two storylines recede into the background. That's how easy it is to change the narrative around the Yankees. Well, that's how easy it is to say it. Doing it is another story, but that, and not mind games, is all that is standing in the Yankees' way.