BOSTON RED SOX (85-57)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (75-65)
First pitch: Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -110, New York +100, Total: 9
Baseballís greatest rivalry will continue Friday night as the Yankees look to bolster their playoff chances taking on the first place Red Sox.
Boston took game one of this series Thursday, 9-8 in extra innings, and enters Friday having won 10 of it past 12 contests while outscoring opponents 80-38 during this ride. Southpaw Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89 ERA) takes the mount for the Red Sox in this one, coming off a rough start against the White Sox on Sunday (3.2 IP, 4 ER), but his team has come out victorious in eight of his past 11 outings. Overall, the Yankees are an excellent 27-19 (.587, 4th in majors) against lefty starters this year. Doubront will face fellow lefty Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA), who is pitching his best baseball of the season with a total of four earned runs allowed over his past five starts. The Red Sox are even better than their foes against lefty starters in 2013, going 29-19 (.604, 3rd in MLB). Overall, the Red Sox are 25-24 against the Yankees over the past three years including 8-5 in 2013. At Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox own a 15-10 advantage during this three-year stretch with a 5-2 edge this year.
Doubront (1.39 WHIP) looked shaky in his last start, making it just 3.2 innings while allowing four earned runs on seven hits. That came after back-to-back gems in which he lasted a combined 14.2 innings, allowing only three runs. He has 133 strikeouts and 60 walks this season with opponents hitting .261 against him. He does a good job at keeping the ball in the park too, with just 11 home runs allowed in his 150.1 innings. Doubront lost to the Yankees on Aug. 16, allowing seven runs (six earned) in four innings, but has generally been great against them in his career, evidenced by a 3-2 record (team 4-3) in seven career starts with a 3.27 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. That success has come while owning a number of Yankees including 2B Robinson Cano (2-for-18, 5 K's) and OFs Curtis Granderson (2-for-13, 9 K's), Ichiro Suzuki (2-for-13) and Brett Gardner (1-for-10, 4 K's). Though the Boston bullpen has blown 20 saves in 50 chances this year, the unit has actually been respectable with a 3.62 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, numbers that improve to a 3.47 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the road.
Pettitte (1.40 WHIP) has lowered his ERA from 4.71 to 4.01 in his past five brilliant starts with the Yankees winning four of those games and Pettitte going 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA. While opponents have hit him fairly hard this season, racking up a .288 BA, he has 101 strikeouts and just 39 walks in 150.1 innings of work. He has been much worse at home in 2013, however, with a 4.63 ERA and 1.56 WHIP at Yankee Stadium. He is also quite experienced against Boston with a 21-11 (team 26-13) lifetime record, 4.03 ERA and 1.47 WHIP against them, including a 6.2 shutout innings opposing Doubront on Aug. 16 at Fenway Park. There are a few current Red Sox who have really owned him though, including DH David Ortiz (.371 BA, 1 HR, 12 RBI in 62 ABs), OFs Jonny Gomes (11-for-31, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (10-for-30, 1 HR, 7 RBI). Despite ace closer Mariano Rivera blowing the save in game one of the series on Thursday, the Yankees have a strong bullpen. The unit has a 3.34 ERA in 2013 with a 1.29 WHIP and 45 saves in 55 chances (82%).