Pitching Key for Red Sox, Yankees As Teams Battle in Bronx for Weekend Series

Jon LesterWhile the Red Sox were 5-13 against the Yankees in 2012, Boston won three times in the Bronx.

The Sox can match that total by winning just once in this weekend’s three-game set at Yankee Stadium, although New York will be approximately a -150 series favorite. The Yankees are also the +190 favorite to win the AL East, with the Sox at +225.

Boston opened the season by winning two of three at the Yankee Stadium. Jon Lester was solid on Opening Day, allowing two runs and five hits in five innings. The Sox won 8-2, ending the Yankees’ 11-game winning streak in home season openers. Lester has seven career wins at the new Yankee Stadium, the most of any pitcher, and will start Friday night after being originally scheduled to miss this series.

Lester’s counterpart in the opener was Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, and he’s scheduled to start Friday against Lester once again. Sabathia (4-4, 3.96) says he’s “hurting the team” right now, and he hasn’t been good of late. He has allowed 14 runs and a whopping 30 hits over 19 2/3 innings in his past three starts, although New York won two of them. Sabathia is 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in May.

Against Boston, Sabathia is 8-10 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 career starts. Back on April 1, he allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings. David Ortiz is hitting .224 with two homers, five RBIs and 15 strikeouts in 49 career at-bats against Sabathia. The Sox may want to start David Ross behind the plate, as he’s 4-for-13 with two homers in his career off the lefty.

Boston’s Clay Buchholz was originally set to start Friday after being scratched Monday with discomfort in his shoulder. He had more discomfort Wednesday, so Lester was moved back from Thursday. He is 10-4 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts against the Bombers.

Phil Hughes (2-3, 4.97) is scheduled to pitch Saturday for the Yankees. New York has lost his past three starts, but he was excellent in the previous two, allowing three runs on nine hits in 13 innings. Hughes, who didn’t face Boston in the first series, is 5-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 20 appearances against the Red Sox. Ortiz torches Hughes, hitting .450 with two homers and seven RBIs in 20 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia has three home runs and eight RBIs in 24 at-bats against the righty.

The Sunday night finale features Yankees ace Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.39). He blanked the Mets on four hits over seven innings Tuesday. Kuroda allowed two runs and four hits in 1 1/3 innings in the April 4 matchup against the Sox and left in the second with a minor injury to a finger on his pitching hand. Pedroia is hitting .467 in his career against Kuroda with a homer. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the only other Sox hitter to go deep against him.

Eduardo Nunez hit .400 in the first series against Boston but is hurt. Travis Hafner hit .300 with a homer. Kevin Youkilis had four hits in 12 at-bats and should return from the disabled list this weekend. Mark Teixeira is likely to make his season debut. Curtis Granderson is sidelined again for the Yankees. Sox pitchers held Robinson Cano to one hit in 11 at-bats in the first meeting.

This post is presented by Bovada.

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