Red Sox-Yankees Preview
For a foundering Boston Red Sox team desperate to stop an epic
collapse and hang on to the AL wild card, facing an opponent with
little at stake this weekend might have been good news.
The problem is, that opponent is the archrival New York Yankees,
who would like nothing better than to push the Red Sox further
along an early path to the golf course.
With their once-gaping wild-card lead down to a tenuous 2 1/2
games and following a rainout Friday night, the Red Sox try once
again to end their September struggles Saturday when they open a
three-game set in the Bronx against the AL East champion
The three games will now be played over two days after rain
postponed Friday’s contest. The teams will play a day-night
When the month began, this series figured to be for the division
crown. Boston and New York had jousted atop the division all
summer, and the Red Sox held a 1 1/2-game lead over the Yankees.
The runner-up appeared nearly certain to win the wild card as Tampa
Bay – the closest pursuer – languished nine games behind
Little has gone right since for the Red Sox (88-68), who fell to
5-16 in September after dropping three of four at home this week to
last-place Baltimore. Boston’s swoon allowed the Yankees (95-61)
the luxury of clinching the division Wednesday and brought the Rays
within two games of the Red Sox before Friday night, when Tampa Bay
lost 5-1 to Toronto and fell 2 1/2 games behind.
“If you were to ask me in August about that – if you would have
told me this would happen in September, I would have laughed,”
slugger David Ortiz told the team’s official website. “Because the
way we were playing, the way things were going, even with some
injuries, we would have come out (of it).”
The Red Sox have dealt with their share of injuries down the
stretch – third baseman Kevin Youkilis hasn’t played in eight days
due to a sports hernia – but health woes don’t come close to
explaining their collapse.
“We certainly haven’t made it very easy for ourselves,” Boston
manager Terry Francona said. “That doesn’t mean we can’t get where
we want to go, but we have our work cut out for us.”
One night after clinching their 11th division title in 14 years,
the Yankees didn’t appear eager to do the Red Sox any favors,
dropping the finale of a four-game series against the Rays 15-8 to
end a four-game winning streak. However, they may be salivating at
the prospect of sending Boston to an early offseason.
“Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me,” New
York catcher Russell Martin said. “They are fun to play against
just because they have a quality team, and they’re gritty, and they
play hard and stuff, but I’d love to see them lose.
“I hate the Red Sox,” he added.
Of all Boston’s problems, the biggest may be a starting rotation
that has compiled a 6.82 ERA this month and has produced only two
quality starts in its last 18 games. One of those belonged to Jon
Lester (15-8, 3.15 ERA), who will take the ball Friday.
However, even Lester may not be the man to end the slump. He’s
7-5 when taking the mound after a Red Sox loss, compared with 8-3
following a win. The left-hander is also coming off consecutive
defeats to Tampa Bay in which he allowed eight runs over 11
Lester is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts versus the Yankees
this season. Both wins came in the Bronx against Freddy Garcia
(11-8, 3.77), who will oppose Lester again Friday.
Garcia fared particularly poorly in a June 7 loss to Lester and
Boston, lasting a season-low 1 2-3 innings while yielding four
runs, four hits and three walks. The right-hander was more
effective Aug. 7 at Fenway Park, limiting the Red Sox to one run
over five innings and not getting a decision.
Garcia, who will turn 35 on Oct. 6, could be showing signs of
fatigue down the stretch. He’s 0-1 with a 10.95 ERA and a .385
opponent batting average in three September outings, failing to
last longer than five innings in any of them.
The Red Sox are 6-0 at Yankee Stadium in 2011, but the teams
have split their last six meetings overall.