This is not how the Yankees wanted to enter their first home series with the Red Sox this season. New York looked sloppy and inefficient in dropping its last two games against the Royals and now face three tough pitchers as the Bombers look to reclaim first place in the American League East.
On Wednesday, the Yanks went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 baserunners en route to a 4-3 loss in 11 innings. They were presented with four separate opportunities with runners on first and second and no one out, but did not bunt once and came away with just one total run in those four chances.
On Thursday, Ivan Nova surrendered eight runs on 10 hits over three innings and was not helped by his defense. Francisco Cervelli, who led all AL catchers with 13 errors last season despite only playing 90 games, committed an error and allowed two passed balls en route to four unearned runs.
Let's take a look at the pitching matchups for this weekend's big three-game series:
Friday, May 13: Bartolo Colon (2-1, 3.86) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-3, 4.19)
Colon's worst start of the season came in his last outing at Texas, where he surrendered five runs on nine hits over 4.1 innings, but his only loss of 2011 came in a relief appearance at Fenway Park on April 8. In 4.1 frames, the right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on only two hits but took the defeat after replacing Phil Hughes.
That was Colon's first relief outing against the Red Sox after 22 starts. Overall, he is 8-10 with a 4.13 ERA against Boston and the current roster hits just .169 off him.
Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-10 with a homer, but no one else hits above .280 against Colon. Mike Cameron is 3-for-29 (.103) with nine strikeouts, David Ortiz is 4-for-39 (.103) with an incredible 15 Ks and Carl Crawford is 6-for-31 (.194) with eight strikeouts.
After a rough April, Buchholz has turned things around this month, winning both his starts while yielding just two runs in 11.2 innings.
On April 9, the righty suffered the only loss of the three-game set against the Yankees, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks through 3.2 innings. That dropped Buchholz's career numbers against the Bombers to 1-3 with a 6.25 ERA in six starts. He's 1-1 with a 3.38 at the new Stadium.
Robinson Cano is a ridiculous 9-for-17 (.529) with three doubles versus Buchholz, while Alex Rodriguez is 6-for-16 (.375) with a homer and Derek Jeter is 5-for-14 (.357).
Prediction: Yankees 6, Red Sox 5
Saturday, May 14: CC Sabathia (3-2, 2.89) vs. Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.99)
This is the premiere pitching matchup of the weekend and a rematch of the April 10 meeting when Beckett completely outdueled Sabathia in a 4-0 Red Sox win.
In that game, the Yankees' ace allowed just one run, but scattered nine hits and issued four walks, limiting his outing to just 5.2 innings. Sabathia is now 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts against Boston.
Cameron (8-for-17, .471, 5 XBH) and Kevin Youkilis (10-for-24, .417) have both had great success facing the big lefty, but no one else on the roster hits better than .286 off him.
Jason Varitek is 2-for-19 (.105), Dustin Pedroia is 4-for-26 (.154) with eight strikeouts and Jacoby Ellsbury is 1-for-13 (.077) with six Ks.
Beckett shut out the Yankees over eight innings of two-hit ball in that April 10 contest, striking out 10 batters while walking just one. But that's par for the course for the right-hander at Fenway Park this season, where he sports a microscopic 0.34 ERA. Things are a little different on the road, where Beckett is 0-1 with a 4.26.
Beckett, who turns 31 on Sunday, is 11-7 with a 5.90 ERA in 23 starts against New York, including a 2-1 record and 5.59 mark in five outings at the new Yankee Stadium.
Cano is 20-for-59 (.339) with 10 extra-base hits off him, but Mark Teixeira is just 7-for-36 (.194) with 14 strikeouts and Curtis Granderson is 5-for-24 (.208) with 11 Ks.
Prediction: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4
Sunday, May 15: Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61) vs. Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96)
Garcia really hasn't made a bad start all season. In his latest outing, he allowed just one run over six innings to beat the Royals, 3-1, on Tuesday.
The right-hander delivered one inning of relief against Boston on April 10, surrendering one run on a hit and a walk. That was his first work out of the bullpen versus the Red Sox and when you add in his 16 previous starts, he is 8-2 with a 4.44 ERA against them.
Carl Crawford is 6-for-18 (.333) off Garcia, but no one else on the club with at least four at-bats against him has an average better than .250. Youkilis is 2-for-11 (.182) and Ortiz is 7-for-30 (.233) with seven strikeouts.
After six straight tremendous outings, Lester turned in his worst start of the season at Toronto on Tuesday, giving up five runs on seven hits and five walks over 5.1 innings.
Despite that effort, the left-hander has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season, ranking fifth in strikeouts (51) and seventh in wins.
Lester is 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 career starts against the Yankees, including a 3-1 record and 2.73 ERA at the new stadium.
How many games will the Yanks win vs. the Sox this weekend?
Jeter is 12-for-36 (.333) off the 27-year-old, but Nick Swisher is 4-for-25 (.160) with eight strikeouts, Teixeira is 4-for-24 (.167) with 10 K's and Jorge Posada is 4-for-21 (.190).
Prediction: Red Sox 4, Yankees 3
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Jordan is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists.
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