The New York Yankees struggled against the Boston Red Sox last year, but they appear to be getting the 2014 season series off to a much better start.
With Derek Jeter sitting out a second straight day, the Yankees will try to win their four-game set with the visiting Red Sox on Sunday night.
New York (6-6) dropped the first two games against Boston last season en route to a 6-13 season mark, but the Yankees have won two of the first three meetings this year after a 7-4 victory Saturday.
Brian McCann hit his first two home runs with the Yankees while Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson also homered. McCann, a seven-time All-Star, had batted .162 in his first 10 games with his new team before breaking out.
”He’s hit the ball better than his numbers indicated,” manager Joe Girardi said.
”I was not really concerned about it. I know he’s going to hit."
The Yankees turned in the big offensive performance without Jeter, who was given his second day off of his final season and first at home. The 39-year-old shortstop, 8 for 24 during a six-game hit streak, was expected to return Sunday, but manager Joe Girardi has opted to keep him out again due to tightness in his right quadriceps.
Even though Jeter isn’t happy about sitting out and no tests are scheduled, Girardi said he’s just trying to be smart about not risking a serious injury.
"I have to manage him with the focus of winning games and keeping him healthy, not it being a farewell tour," Girardi told the team’s official website Saturday. "It’s not the last week of the season and these games are obviously important to us – today, tomorrow, the next month. I have to manage that."
The rest of the Yankees will be facing Felix Doubront (1-1, 9.00 ERA), who will try to rebound from a poor outing.
The left-hander gave up five runs and lasted 2 2-3 innings in a 10-7 home loss to Texas on Tuesday.
Doubront was 0-1 with a 14.09 ERA in his final two matchups with the Yankees in 2013 after going 3-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his first six career starts against them.
Ivan Nova (1-1, 8.68) is also looking to get on track after a rough start in his last outing, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 14-5 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday. The right-hander failed to make it past the fifth inning in his two matchups with Boston last season, going 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA.
Daniel Nava was 3 for 4 with two doubles against him in those games while David Ortiz had two hits in three at-bats, improving to 6 for 16 all-time off of Nova.
Ortiz has reached base in 25 straight meetings, the longest active such streak against the Yankees.
Boston’s offensive woes continued Saturday, however, as the Red Sox again failed to score in the first inning for the first time this season. Manager John Farrell moved Dustin Pedroia from the second slot into the leadoff spot – the All-Star went 1 for 5 and is hitting .236, without a home run or walk so far.
”We’re doing what we can. Trying different things as far as the lineup goes, trying different combinations to get a little bit of a jump start. It’s required our starters to come out of the bullpen ready to roll from the first inning on,” Farrell said.
Soriano was 3 for 5 with two homers against Doubront in 2013.
Boston closer Koji Uehara’s status remains uncertain because of discomfort in his right shoulder. He’s sat out the past two games, and Edward Mujica finished off Friday’s 4-2 win.
Grady Sizemore, who hit a three-run homer in that contest, could return to the lineup after resting Saturday.