New York native Romano starts for Reds vs. Red Sox (Sep 22, 2017)

BY AP • September 22, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Rookie right-hander Sal Romano will carry some extra motivation to the mound on Friday night when he and the Cincinnati Reds face the Boston Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

Romano is focused on winning a game for the Reds and helping further solidify his spot in the rotation for 2018. However, the Long Island, N.Y., native also grew up a New York Yankees fan. Romano's beloved Bronx Bombers trail the Red Sox by three games in the American League East standings.

"I'm a big Yankees fan," Romano said. "I've been to a lot of Yankees-Red Sox games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. I wish we were playing in Fenway Park. I know the Yankees are three games behind them. It'll be pretty cool to face them."

Romano will be making his 15th major league start and first against Boston. He is 5-6 with a 4.07 ERA and has 63 strikeouts and 31 walks in 77 1/3 innings.

A scheduling oddity has the Reds closing the home portion of their regular-season schedule with an interleague opponent, which has never happened before.

Cincinnati (66-87) is 5-12 in interleague play this season. The Reds' .416 winning percentage against AL clubs since the advent of interleague play in 1997 is the worst of any team.

Boston leads the all-time series 9-1. The Red Sox have swept three of the four series played between the clubs. The Reds and Red Sox haven't played each other since 2014. The most memorable meeting, of course, was in the 1975 World Series, won by Cincinnati in seven games. It is regarded as one of the most exciting Fall Classics ever played.

Boston (88-64) has plenty at stake going into this series. After clinching a postseason berth on Wednesday night in Baltimore, the rest of the champagne remains on ice as the Red Sox continue to chase the AL East title.

"Given where we are in the standings and what is at stake, every win is important," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Just getting into the playoffs is not our goal. Certainly, it is a steppingstone to other things that we have our sights set on. We still have a lot of work ahead of us."

The Red Sox have won 11 of their past 14 games, including six of their past seven. They are a season-high 24 games above .500.

There a few compelling storylines for this weekend's series.

In addition to Romano's Red Sox hatred, this weekend also will be a homecoming for Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira, located about 12 miles northeast of Great American Ball Park.

Reds right-hander Luke Farrell, who was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 9, is John Farrell's son. Luke wears uniform No. 52, the same number his father wore as a major league player and still wears as a manager.

If Luke faces the Red Sox this weekend, it would be the first time a major league player has faced his manager father since the Cubs' Moises Alou faced his dad Felipe's Giants in 2004.

Reds manager Bryan Price said he would try to make it happen.

"Little things like that go mostly undiscussed, but it's little things like that I think go a long way," Price said. "You may not have that luxury if you're in first place by a game, but when you're in last place, you can have those special moments."

Boston right-hander Rick Porcello, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, will start the series opener. After struggling for most of the first half of the season, Porcello (10-17, 4.46 ERA) has a 3.76 ERA in 14 starts since July 3. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 10 of those starts.

Oddly enough, Porcello started the only game in which the Reds ever beat the Red Sox, allowing four runs in five innings of a 6-5, 10-inning loss on June 8, 2012. It was his lone career start against Cincinnati.

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