Red Sox-Yankees Preview

The New York Yankees showed they could beat the Boston Red Sox
without Alex Rodriguez in the lineup. They’re hoping they don’t
have to do so on consecutive days.

The third baseman might be back on the field when the Yankees
try to add to their lead in the AL East with another home victory
over Boston on Sunday night.

Rodriguez was hit in the left leg by a hard ground ball off the
bat of Lance Berkman during batting practice Saturday. The
three-time AL MVP limped around before falling to the ground with
his hands on his face, but X-rays were negative.

“I never saw it,” Rodriguez said. “It’d never happened to me
before.”

The Yankees (68-41), however, didn’t miss a beat without
Rodriguez, beating the Red Sox 5-2 as Ramiro Pena singled and drove
in two runs in his place.

“Do I expect him to play (Sunday)? I have no idea,” manager Joe
Girardi said. “He was in a substantial amount of pain.”

The Yankees hope that pain subsides, considering Rodriguez is
among baseball’s leaders with 88 RBIs and hitting .324 with two
homers and nine RBIs against the Red Sox (63-48) this season. He
had an RBI single in Friday’s 6-3 loss in the opener of this
four-game series.

New York leads the East by 1 1/2 games over Tampa Bay, while
Boston sits six back.

The Yankees have won 15 of the last 20 meetings with the Red
Sox, going 9-2 at home, but A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA) has had
major problems with them.

The right-hander is 0-3 with a 9.40 ERA in six starts against
Boston since joining New York before last season. He was hit hard
in his most recent matchup, surrendering nine runs and nine hits in
4 1-3 innings of a 9-3 loss in Boston on May 9.

Burnett will be trying to rebound from one of his worst
performances of the season in Monday’s 8-6 loss to Toronto. He was
victimized by a big inning in the fifth, giving up seven of the
eight runs he allowed before being pulled with two outs. He had won
his previous two starts by throwing 11 1-3 scoreless innings.

“He lost the sink on his fastball, got flat, and lost his
command. He didn’t correct it,” Girardi said. “You’re surprised
when he gives up a big inning like that.”

The Red Sox are trying to avoid falling further back in the East
and continued success from Josh Beckett (3-1, 5.70) could go a long
way.

The right-hander appears to be putting a strained lower back
behind him, going 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts since
spending over two months on the disabled list.

Beckett allowed one run, three hits and struck out eight in
eight innings – his longest outing of the season – in a 3-1 win
over Cleveland on Tuesday.

“I’m feeling good,” Beckett told the Red Sox’s official website.
“I think up until (Tuesday), it was a build-up thing. They’ve
allowed me to build up.

“I’m still making adjustments and I think the adjustments come
with time. Right now, everything is happening good.”

Beckett, however, may be in for his toughest test since
returning.

He’s 0-2 with a 9.93 ERA while serving up nine homers in 22 2-3
innings over his last four starts against the Yankees. He lasted 4
2-3 innings May 18, allowing five runs and walking three in a 7-6
win at Yankee Stadium before being placed on the DL the next
day.