Yankees-Red Sox Preview

The New York Yankees could use a lot less drama from their starting pitcher when they hit the field for the series finale against their biggest rivals.

Veteran left-hander CC Sabathia takes the hill Thursday as New York tries to move past an embarrassing incident and win its three-game set against Boston at Fenway Park.

Michael Pineda started for the Yankees (12-9) in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox but was ejected with two outs in the second inning for using a foreign substance. The right-hander appeared to have pine tar on his neck and was also suspected of using the substance to improve his grip of the ball in New York’s 4-1 win over Boston on April 10.

Red Sox manager John Farrell didn’t alert umpires to the substance on Pineda’s right hand in that game, but he did bring it up Wednesday. Pineda, who had allowed four hits and two earned runs, was tossed by home plate umpire Gerry Davis after he was examined.

Pineda was suspended 10 games by Major League Baseball on Thursday.

"He had a hard time gripping the baseball. Unknown to us, he put it on and went out there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It’s a young kid. I don’t think he’s trying to do anything, cheat. I think he’s just trying to go out there and compete."

John Lackey needed no such help for Boston (10-12), working eight sharp innings and striking out 11. Mike Napoli had three hits for the Red Sox.

The Yankees could use a quality outing from Sabathia (2-2, 5.19 ERA) in the wake of the pine tar moment, which has led to suspensions of as much as 10 games in similar circumstances.

Sabathia had his best start his last time out in a 10-2 win over Tampa Bay on April 17. He allowed one earned run over seven innings with eight strikeouts, a crisp performance that was almost unnecessary while the Yankees piled up a season-high 16 hits.

"For these guys to come out and swing the way they did, I wanted to put some shutdown innings together," Sabathia said afterward. "I was able to do that and get the win."

It was a much better showing than when he faced the Red Sox on April 11 at Yankee Stadium. Sabathia allowed a pair of homers in the sixth inning of that contest, which accounted for all of Boston’s runs in its 4-2 victory.

The loss dropped Sabathia’s record versus the Red Sox to 8-8 since he joined the Yankees prior to the 2009 season. His career ERA of 5.47 at Fenway is his highest for any active American League ballpark.

The Red Sox will counter with Felix Doubront (2-2, 5.48 ERA), who lost to the Yankees on April 13 when he walked three and struck out just two over 6 2-3 innings while also allowing a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran.

Doubront bounced back from that outing with a strong start Saturday, striking out a season-high seven but failing to get a decision in Boston’s 4-2 win over Baltimore.

The Red Sox offense has picked it up of late with double-digit totals in hits in two of the last three games after recording 10 or more in a game just once between April 9-20. The lineup may also get a boost from the return of Shane Victorino, who could be activated from the disabled list prior to the finale versus the Yankees.

"There has been a more consistent approach, up and down the lineup," manger John Farrell said. "Hopefully Vic’s return at some point – whether that is (on Thursday) – will add to that."