A Rivalry Renewed: Red Sox and Yankees Open Three-Game Series Friday

Aaron BaralCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2008

The Yankees and Red Sox find themselves back on the field against one another as their rivalry is renewed – again.  The Sox and Yanks will start a three-game series Friday, and there are plenty of storylines to choose from.

Perhaps the biggest story of the three-game set is the return of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.  Ortiz has been out since May 31 after sustaining a partial tear of the tendon sheath in his left wrist in a game against the Baltimore Orioles.  Ortiz’s return to the lineup will be a huge help to an offense that got the job done while he was out, but certainly could use another big bat to help Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew.

It will be interesting to see what happens to J.D. Drew.  Drew, who was hitting well before Ortiz went down with the injury, stepped up to the plate when the Sox needed him the most, and made the most of it. 

Drew hit 11 home runs in June, and now has a season total of 18.  He was named to his first All-Star team and won the All-Star Game MVP.  However, with the return of Big Papi, will manager Terry Francona keep the right fielder in the number three slot in the order, where he was while Ortiz was gone? 

Or will Drew be pushed down to perhaps the number five or six slot?  Either way it is a huge plus to get a perennial 35 plus HR / 100 plus RBI guy back into your lineup for the stretch run.

While there will be no Wang, Matsuzaka, or Buchholz to look forward to, this weekend’s series offers up a few good pitching match-ups.  To open the series, the Red Sox look to their ace Josh Beckett to extend the Sox’s winning streak to four games. 

Beckett allowed three runs on four hits over six innings in the Red Sox’s July 4 victory over the Bronx Bombers.  Opposing Beckett is Joba Chamberlain, a blossoming star pitcher for the Yankees.  He gave up three runs on four hits to the Red Sox on July 6 in a game in which the Yankees won in 10 innings. 

Something to look for:  Chamberlain and Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis have a bit of history.  In a game last year in the Bronx, Chamberlain threw two 95-plus MPH fastballs over the head of Youkilis.  Benches cleared and Chamberlain was ejected.  This year there was an incident in which words were exchanged between the two, although nothing else happened.  We’ll see what happens as the two teams take the field at 7:05 ET Friday.

Game two boasts veterans Tim Wakefield for the Sox and Andy Pettitte for the Yankees.  Long-time Yank Pettitte hopes to rebound from his shaky start against the Sox, in which he went just 4.2 innings giving up six runs (five earned).  Wakefield, on the other hand, will try to knuckle his way to a victory against the famed Yankees lineup.

No matter who you are rooting for, this Yankees – Red Sox series will be one to watch as the season reaches the stretch run.  The teams don’t meet again until a three-game series in late August.  Who won’t be watching then?