New York enters Monday's action not only in first place, but also with the best record in the American League.
That doesn't mean much when you are 1-5 against Boston because the Bombers know they'll have to get past the Sox if they want to return to the World Series.
In the first six meetings this season, the Red Sox lead by a wide margin in batting average (.292 to .216) and ERA (4.00 to 6.06).
The Bombers are averaging 1.57 homers per game versus the rest of the league, but against Boston, they're hitting just 1.33 blasts per contest and have been shutout twice, meaning they need to find new ways to score.
Here are the pitching match-ups for the series:
Tuesday, June 7 - Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34) vs. Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94)
Garcia has delivered three straight quality starts, but the outing right before that streak began was his worst game of the year, a five-run, 5 1/3-inning start against the Red Sox. In that outing, the right-hander yielded two homers to Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.
In his career, Garcia is 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA against Boston. Ortiz is 10-for-33 (.303) and Carl Crawford is 6-for-20 (.300) off him, but he's been able to control most of the remaining hitters on the roster, especially J.D. Drew, who is 3-for-14 (.214).
Lester began the season 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA, but has racked up a 6.52 mark over his last five starts, culminating in a seven-run, 5 2/3-inning effort against the White Sox last Tuesday. In that game, the power lefty struggled with his command, walking four.
Lester also walked four in a 7-5 win over the Yankees on May 15, when he surrendered four runs in six innings.
The 27-year-old is 7-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 career starts against the Bombers, including a 4-1 record and 3.28 mark at the new Stadium.
Andruw Jones will certainly get the start in the opener because he is 4-for-12 (.333) with a homer and three walks off Lester. Derek Jeter has also had success (12-for-38, .316), but Alex Rodriguez (6-for-29, .207, 8 K's), Mark Teixeira (6-for-27, .222, 11 K's) and Nick Swisher (4-for-27, .128, 9 K's) have struggled.
Wednesday, June 8 - A.J. Burnett (6-3, 3.86) vs. Tim Wakefield (2-1, 4.40)
Burnett hasn't allowed more than three runs in each of his last three starts and held the A's to just two over seven innings last Wednesday.
The right-hander is yet to face the Red Sox this year, but is 5-3 with a 4.79 ERA in 15 career starts against them. He is also 5-1 with a 3.63 mark at home this season.
Mike Cameron, Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury all hit better than .300 off Burnett, but Jason Varitek is just 5-for-24 (.208) with nine strikeouts.
The Yankees caught a break when Clay Buchholz was pushed back to Friday because of a sore back and Wakefield took his place. The knuckle-baller has made just five starts this season and the Bombers have had a lot of success against him.
In 56 career appearances (34 starts), the 44-year-old is 11-17 with a 4.90 ERA against New York, but he's been better in the Bronx, sporting a 6-7 record and a 3.59 mark. Wakefield pitched two perfect innings of relief against the Yanks on April 9.
There is no one in baseball history that Jeter has faced more often than Wakefield, going 31-for-108 (.287). Robinson Cano is 14-for-46 (.304) with four homers, but Brett Gardner is 1-for-11 (.091).
Thursday, June 9 - CC Sabathia (7-3, 2.80) vs. Josh Beckett (4-2, 2.01)
This will be the third time these heavyweights square off this season, with Beckett getting the upper hand the first two times around.
Sabathia has been nearly untouchable over his last four starts, going undefeated with a 1.60 ERA and lasting at least eight innings in each. But like Garcia, the big lefty's streak began after a poor start against the Red Sox. On May 14, Sabathia pitched his worst game of the season, yielding six runs over 6 2/3 innings.
In fact, the southpaw is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA against Boston this year and 7-1 with a 2.44 versus everyone else.
In his career, Sabathia is 6-7 with a 3.63 ERA against the Red Sox. Cameron is 8-for-19 (.421) and Youkilis is 10-for-27 (.370), but Varitek is 3-for-21 (.143) and Ellsbury is 2-for-16 (.125) with six strikeouts.
Beckett has the lowest ERA in the AL and unlike Sabathia, he has thrived this year against the offensive powerhouse on the other side of the rivalry.
The right-hander has given up just six hits and three walks with an astounding 19 strikeouts over 14 scoreless innings versus New York in 2011. This is a stark contrast to his career 5.66 ERA in 24 starts against the Yankees.
Cano is 20-for-62 (.323) with 12 RBIs against Beckett, but Teixeira is 7-for-38 (.184) with 16 strikeouts.
This may be a good night to give Francisco Cervelli a start as he is 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI versus Beckett, while Russell Martin is 0-for-5 with a strikeout. The Yankees have to try to mix it up a little against the 31-year-old.
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