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Yankees vs. Red Sox Series Preview: Bombers Aim to Keep Rival Out of Win Column

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Yankees vs. Red Sox Series Preview: Bombers Aim to Keep Rival Out of Win Column
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Red Sox fans are back to where they feel most comfortable: Complaining about an underachieving team.

After two world championships in the past seven years and an offseason full of big acquisitions, Boston was starting to get uneasy about being Fall Classic favorites.

Enter an 0-6 start.

Now New England's airwaves are filled with fans ready to declare the season over. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Red Sox players are not as insane as some of their fans. Terry Francona's club knows the year has barely begun and it is ready to take its anger and frustration out on its archrival.

Neither team's pitching staffs were expected to be that great and while New York ranks 21st in baseball with a 4.42 ERA, Boston is dead last at a ridiculous 7.13.

But while the Bombers have more than made up for their below-average pitching with solid hitting and an MLB-best 13 homers, the Sox have been just as bad at the plate, batting an astonishingly low .181 through six games.

So will the Yanks' pitching keep the Red Sox down or are we in store for a trio of 11-10 contests that each last four hours?

Let's break down the pitching matchups for this three-game weekend set at Fenway Park.

 

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Friday, April 8: Phil Hughes (0-1, 11.25) vs. John Lackey (0-1, 22.09)

Hughes struggled in his season debut on Sunday, allowing five runs on five hits, including two homers, over four innings of a 10-7 loss to the Tigers. His velocity was way down, leading to only one strikeout.

April has historically been the right-hander's worst month (3-6, 5.80 ERA) and he doesn't have good career numbers against the Red Sox (2-3, 4.97 ERA in 13 appearances and six starts) or at Fenway Park (10 ER in 15 IP).

David Ortiz (5-for-12, .417) and J.D. Drew (6-for-14, .429) have done the most damage against Hughes, but former Ray Carl Crawford (2-for-13, .154) and Dustin Pedroia (1-for-13, .077) have not been as lucky.

Lackey had one of the worst starts of any pitcher in baseball so far this season when he surrendered nine runs on 10 hits, including a pair of long balls, in a 12-5 loss at Texas on Saturday.

Like his counterpart in this game, Lackey has traditionally been a slow starter, racking up a 5.14 ERA in March and April, more than a half-run worse than any other month.

The 32-year-old is 6-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 19 career starts against the Yankees.

Jorge Posada is 13-for-36 (.361) off him, Mark Teixeira is 20-for-57 (.351) with 11 RBI and Derek Jeter is 17-for-54 (.315) with six doubles.

But Alex Rodriguez is just 10-for-57 (.175) with an incredible 25 strikeouts and Nick Swisher is 7-for-51 (.137) with 21 whiffs.

Expect a high-scoring affair.

 

Saturday, April 9: Ivan Nova (1-0, 4.50) vs. Clay Buchholz (0-1, 5.68)

The Yankees got exactly what they wanted out of their young No. 4 starter in his debut on Monday. Nova turned in a quality start, yielding three runs on six hits and just one walk with three strikeouts over six innings in a 4-3 win over the Twins.

But the righty has not had a lot of success vs. the Red Sox in his short time in the big leagues. He has given up five runs on eight hits and a bloated six walks through seven frames in two appearances.

Drew and Crawford are both 2-for-4 off him and the entire current roster is 6-for-16 (.375).

After surrendering just nine homers last year, Buchholz allowed four solo shots over 6.1 innings in a 5-1 loss at Texas on Sunday, so he better keep the ball down against the slugging Bombers.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 5.79 ERA in five starts vs. New York and has been knocked around by a number of Yankees hitters.

Robinson Cano is 7-for-15 (.467) with two doubles against Buchholz, Teixeira is 4-for-9 (.444) with two homers, Jeter is 4-for-12 (.333) and A-Rod is 4-for-13 (.308). But Curtis Granderson is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.

 

Sunday, April 10: CC Sabathia (0-0, 1.38) vs. Josh Beckett (0-1, 5.40)

Sabathia has been the steady ace the Yankees need so badly this season over his first two starts, but thanks to a Cano error and a bullpen implosion, he has no wins to show for it.

In his last outing against the Twins on Tuesday, the big lefty tossed a two-hit shutout over seven innings and retired the final 17 batters he faced, but the over-cautious Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia after 104 pitches and Rafael Soriano combined with David Robertson to blow the game. You don't see Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay pulled with two-hit shutouts.

Sabathia is 6-5 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 starts against the Red Sox, including a 2-2 record and a 4.05 mark in seven outings at Fenway Park.

Expect Mike Cameron to be in the lineup Sunday because he is 7-for-14 (.500) with a 1.000 slugging percentage vs. the southpaw. Kevin Youkilis is 9-for-22 (.409), but the rest of the roster hits under .300 off Sabathia.

Jason Varitek is 2-for-16 (.125), former Padre Adrian Gonzalez is 1-for-8 (.125), Pedroia is 1-for-22 (.045) with eight strikeouts and Jacoby Ellsbury is 1-for-13 (.077).

Beckett had difficulty putting hitters away with his fastball at Cleveland on Tuesday. He lasted just five innings while allowing three runs on five hits and four walks in a 3-1 loss.

The veteran has not had much success lately against the Yankees. He is 10-7 with a 6.26 ERA in 22 career starts.

Cano is 19-for-56 (.339) with 12 RBI vs. Beckett and Swisher is 10-for-32 (.313), but Teixeira is 7-for-34 (.206) with 12 strikeouts and Granderson is 5-for-21 (.238) with nine Ks.

The Yankees should be disappointed if they don't win the series finale.

 

Follow me on Twitter at @  JordanHarrison.

Jordan is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and authorhouse.com.

He can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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