As the Yankees vs Red Sox rivalry resumed Friday night (June 29) in Yankee Stadium in New York, the two ball clubs were virtually alone atop the American League East. In this pre-All-star Game weekend matchup, the coals are starting to heat up. And, as each team showed it’s hitting prowess against mediocre or worse pitching, they also exhibited what could happen when facing good pitching.

Red Sox and Yankees both hit lousy pitching pretty well

On Friday night, the Red Sox threw Eduardo Rodriguez out on the mound. Rodriguez, riding a six-game win streak, quickly created a highlight reel of all that is good about the 2018 Yankees.

Rookies Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres both had good nights. Aaron Judge again showed why he is not a flash in the pan, and hopeful first baseman Greg Bird hit two home runs for the Yankees.

The Red Sox pitching is superior in most spots

The 25-year-old Rodriguez, quietly sporting an above average 9-3 record, is still a largely unknown entity. The Yankees conversely rolled out the much beleaguered Sonny Gray. Gray, whom the Yankees had hoped would sport a winning record of his own, stands at only 5 - 6. Though not unusual for the Yankees to carry a couple of pitchers in which they have uncertain faith and confidence, it is especially concerning this year. This year’s uncertain starting rotation is notable because the Yankees' record is among the top three in the league and in the majors.

This automatically sets up expectations for the World Series or bust in 2018.

However, it always comes down to pitching. Whether your pitching shows up [VIDEO] the day before the playoffs, as in Verlander for the Astros in 2017, or is there all year long, which is more confidence building and predictable, it doesn’t matter. In the competition between the Yankees and Red Sox, the Sox have the obvious advantage. With pitchers like Sale, Porcello, Price, and either Pomerantz, when he’s back, or now Rodriguez, and his 9-3 record, the advantage on paper is clear. The Yankees, a week before the All-Star break, tout a starting rotation that includes Severino, Sabathia, Gray, and either German or Loaisigo.

The Sox’ Sale is the best pitcher in baseball right now. Severino matches up well against him but is only in his first year as a Yankee ace. Porcello is only two years removed from a 22-win season and though the Yankees’ Sabathia was dominant in his prime, that was nine years ago. He now pitches on guts and guile and is only one awkward landing away from the disabled list.

If you are a Yankees fan, the competition gets dicier from here [VIDEO]. David Price’s best year was in 2012 with the Rays, but for the Bosox, he has nine wins ahead of tonight’s contest with New York. Sonny Gray is a bundle of promise, with tales of great stuff and potential from his days with the A’s; but he is unpredictable and possibly overwhelmed while wearing the pinstripes. And, while Pomeranz is a conundrum for the Sox this season, they do have professional starters to throw out there in his place. New York has potential with names like German and Loaisigo, both virtually in their rookie years.

The bottom line is that the Red Sox had three potential 20-game winners as they arrived in New York this weekend. And, the Yankees, even with the expected return of Masahiro Tanaka soon, need at least one and maybe two professional starting pitchers to compete with either the Red Sox or the Houston Astros for the game’s biggest prize this year.