Boston entered the series having won all six games in the Bronx this season.
The Boston Red Sox turn to a couple of unlikely saviors when they play a doubleheader at the New York Yankees on Sunday.
The first game from Yankee Stadium will be at 1:05 p.m. (ET) and the second at 6:30 p.m. (ET). Boston will go with Tim Wakefield and John Lackey, while the Yanks have A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. The pitching order is still unknown, with the MLB odds released shortly.
The Red Sox (88-68) saw their Friday series opener rained out. That kept them at 5-16 this month, one of the worst September collapses in MLB history. Their 6.82 starters ERA is a huge reason why.
Boston has a 2.5-game lead for the AL wild card over the Rays and 3.5 over the Angels. Both teams lost Friday and those standings are pending Saturday’s results. Boston was a 150 favorite with Jon Lester facing Freddy Garcia.
Lackey (12-12, 6.49 ERA) is having an historically bad year, at least in terms of ERA. He’s been even worse in his four September starts (10.70 ERA), not lasting more than 5 1/3 innings.
Boston is 1-4 in Lackey’s last five starts, winning 18-9 last Monday against Baltimore even after he allowed eight earned runs over 4 1/3 innings.
The 32 year-old right-hander is 2-1 versus New York this year, but has a 6.50 ERA and they were all at home. He pitched at Yankee Stadium once last year while with Boston (five earned runs over six innings).
He did have success in the Bronx (3.76 ERA in eight regular season starts) while with the Angels, but that seems like a long time ago.
Wakefield (7-7, 5.08 ERA) finally got his 200th career win, but Boston is 1-6 in his last seven starts overall (5.55 ERA). He only made it through six innings once in that span. His one start at New York this year was in June, five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings, but getting the win in the 11-6 victory.
Boston’s Kevin Youkilis (hip) is sitting Saturday and will certainly not play both games Sunday.
The Yankees (95-61) have clinched the AL East and a third straight playoff appearance. They’re now the solid 125 favorite to win the AL Pennant (Boston is still next +300).
Manager Joe Girardi has no plans to rest players this weekend and there are no significant position players on the injury report. All things being equal, he would love to damage the Red Sox playoff chances.
Nova (16-4, 3.62 ERA) has been one of the most unsung pitchers in baseball. He had solid numbers (8-4, 4.12 ERA) in July, but was sent to the minors due to a crowded rotation. He has come back with a vengeance since (8-0, 2.94 ERA).
The 24-year-old right-hander last pitched Monday versus Tampa Bay, allowing no runs over 7 2/3 innings (5-0 home win). New York had lost his previous two starts at Seattle and Baltimore, scoring five total runs, but is 13-2 in his last 15 starts overall.
Nova’s one start against Boston this year was at Fenway in April. He surrendered four earned runs over 4 1/3 innings, with the Yanks bats generating a 9-4 win.
Burnett (10-11, 5.28 ERA) is trying to pitch his way onto the playoff roster. He has a 5.06 ERA in four September starts. The Yanks still won three due to some great bullpen work and one was at Fenway on Sept. 1 (two earned runs over 5 1/3 innings).
The 34-year-old right-hander has a lower ERA at home (4.56). However, he did get bombed in his home start against Boston back in June (seven earned runs over 5 2/3 innings).
Boston is 11-4 against the Yankees this year, 6-0 at Yankee Stadium, with the last series there in June.
The ‘over’ is 5-0 in Boston’s last five games, with the totals ranging from 9-11 runs.
New York is 50-28 at home this year (+10.5 betting units) even after losing all six to Boston.
Weather will be warm in the 70s, but with showers. The teams begin their final regular season series on Monday with Boston at pesky Baltimore and New York at Tampa Bay.