Red Sox-Yankees Preview
With Jon Lester looking to continue his recent run of success, the Red Sox try to complete their first road series sweep of at least four games from the Yankees in 74 years on Sunday.
A winner in five straight, Boston (87-57) has batted .386 with 17 homers and 13 doubles while scoring 54 runs over the last four contests. With Saturday's 13-9 win over New York (75-67), the Red Sox became the first visiting team to score at least nine runs on three straight days against the Yankees since they did it in 1912 versus the New York Highlanders at Hilltop Park.
"Sometimes you're like, 'What's going on?' Because what we're doing now is pretty crazy,'' said Boston's Mike Napoli, who is 7 for 12 with three homers and eight RBIs in the set.
The Red Sox, who last swept their archrival in a series of at least four games when they won all five July 7-9, 1939, have an 11-game lead over the fourth-place Yankees in the AL East. New York is in the mix for a wild-card berth, but has not looked like a contender while giving up 34 runs, 45 hits, nine homers and 14 walks in the set.
The news didn't get much better for the Yankees on the injury front with star Derek Jeter's status uncertain after his surgically repaired left ankle forced him to leave Saturday's game.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen right now,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Jeter, who is batting .190 in 17 games this season.
Lester (13-8, 3.88 ERA) posted a 4.76 ERA while splitting the two previous starts he made this season at New York, but has a 1.71 ERA while going 3-2 in his last six overall. The left-hander allowed a run and struck out a season-high nine in seven innings of a 2-1 victory over AL Central-leading Detroit on Tuesday to kick-start Boston's current winning streak.
"It's been good the last three, four, five starts, so, keep grinding it out," he said.
While Lester has pitched well of late, scheduled New York starter Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99) is 0-3 with a 7.43 ERA in his last four starts.
That stretch began Aug. 17 at Fenway Park, when he allowed five runs - three earned - and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 defeat that dropped him to 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA against the Red Sox this year.
In the right-hander's longest start of his current slump, Kuroda allowed four runs, seven hits and fanned seven in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Boston slugger David Ortiz is 3 for 13 in the series, but 7 for 12 with a homer against Kuroda.
New York's Ichiro Suzuki had two hits with an RBI on Saturday, and is 8 for his last 16 against Lester.
Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury will miss a third straight game after injuring his foot during Thursday's 9-8, 10-inning win over the Yankees.