BOSTON –There are many responses the Boston Red Sox could have to their 0-6 start as their archrivals, the New York Yankees, arrive at Fenway Park for a weekend series.
Panic, however, is not one of them.
Determined to end their worst start since 1945, the Red Sox hope a change of venue brings a change of momentum in the opener of their three-game set Friday afternoon.
Nothing has come together for a full game for Boston (0-6), which has endured inconsistent pitching, a lack of hitting, some mental lapses and a failure to get breaks while absorbing three-game sweeps at both Texas and Cleveland. The Red Sox are one of two winless teams left in the majors, sharing the AL East basement with reigning division champion Tampa Bay.
"We've got a good team. We've just got to get out of this little funk we're in," third baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "We're frustrated as hell because we never thought we'd be here, but we are here, so you've got to deal with it."
His frustration Thursday came in the form of an 0-for-4 effort that dropped his average to .105 as the Red Sox were limited to four singles in a 1-0 defeat. Boston is batting .181 collectively, though the well-pitched game by starter Jon Lester helped lower the team's ERA to 7.13.
"The slate's not really clean," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "The record is what it is, but I don't want us to have a hangover. We need to pick it up. We're going to play a good team now. We haven't done a very good job to this point. I don't want us to be trying to win for this week because we can't do that."
For their part, the Yankees (4-2) are also looking past Boston's record and fully expect their rivals to regroup and be part of the pennant race in arguably the deepest division in baseball.
"Who cares if they're 0-6 or 6-0?" reliever Joba Chamberlain said. "They're still a talented ballclub. And we know that. We're not looking at their record. We're looking at the talent they're putting on the field that we're going to have to face. We're not playing their record. We're playing their team."
New York took two of three in a rain-shortened series against Minnesota, capped by Thursday's 4-3 victory. Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and closer Mariano Rivera combined to pitch three scoreless innings for the third time in the team's four wins, helping A.J. Burnett to his second victory.
Soriano bounced back from a poor effort Tuesday when he walked three in the eighth inning of a 5-4 defeat.
"His command was what we were accustomed to seeing, and that was the difference," manager Joe Girardi said.
Phil Hughes (0-1, 11.25 ERA) will try to give that trio a chance to duplicate Thursday's effort after a poor season debut. The right-hander was reached for five runs — four via two homers by Miguel Cabrera – in four innings of a 10-7 defeat to Detroit on Sunday.
Hughes went 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in four starts and five overall appearances versus Boston last season, with both wins coming at Fenway. He is, however, 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in six lifetime starts against them.
Red Sox counterpart John Lackey (0-1, 22.09) also is coming off a forgettable performance. He was tagged for nine runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings of a 12-5 defeat to Texas on Saturday.
The right-hander went 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA against the Yankees in 2010 during his first season with the Red Sox. Lackey is 6-8 with a 4.43 ERA in 19 career starts versus New York.