Red Sox Need Ace Performance From Beckett to Beat Yankees

Red Sox Need Ace Performance From Beckett to Beat Yankees Thursday night was an ugly mess for the Red Sox, who despite being given 12 walks, were demolished 13-6 at Yankee Stadium. Fortunately for the Sox, their ace will be taking the hill Friday night, hoping to right the ship and snap a three-game losing streak to divisional opponents.

The Yankees' offense will be ready, however, after blasting Boston pitching for 18 hits, 13 runs and four homers in the series opener.

When and Where

7:05 p.m., Aug. 7, 2009
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Records

Red Sox (62-45, 2nd place in AL East)
Yankees (65-42, 1st place in AL East)

Skinny

The Yankees beat the Red Sox for the first time in nine chances this season. Despite the lopsided score, the Sox still have outscored the Yanks considerably this season by a 61-44 margin.

The win stretches the Yankees' lead in the division to 3 1/2 games, guaranteeing them a hold of that lead by the end of the series.

Starting Lineups

Red Sox Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Derek Jeter, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Johnny Damon, LF
Victor Martinez, 1B Mark Teixeira, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B Alex Rodriguez, 3B
David Ortiz, DH Hideki Matsui, DH
J.D. Drew, RF Jorge Posada, C
Jason Varitek, C Robinson Cano, 2B
Josh Reddick, LF Nick Swisher, RF
Nick Green, SS Melky Cabrera, CF

Pitching Matchup

RHP Josh Beckett (13-4, 3.27 ERA) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (10-5, 3.89 ERA)
With the Red Sox needing a long outing from their starter, Beckett is the perfect candidate. He's gone at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts, averaging 7.58 innings in that span. Against the Yankees this season, he's had an awful start (8 R, 5 IP), an OK start (3 R, 6 IP) and most recently a strong start, pitching six shutout innings in a 7-0 Red Sox win. In his career, he is 9-4 against the Yankees with a 5.42 ERA.

Burnett's streak of eight straight quality starts was snapped his last time out against the White Sox, when Chicago jumped on him for seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Prior to that start, Burnett had won five straight decisions, dating back to June 27 against the Mets.

Against the Red Sox this season, Burnett has pitched 7 2/3 innings in two starts, going 0-1 while giving up 11 earned runs for an ERA of 12.91. He has just four strikeouts and eight walks against the Sox. Prior to this season, Burnett had excelled against Boston, going 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

Stat Sheet

Red Sox
The Red Sox are 27-28 on the road this season, putting them fourth in the AL behind Los Angeles (32-22), New York (30-25) and Seattle (29-30).

Jason Bay
, who sat out Thursday's opener, has hit safely in all eight games he's played against the Yankees this season, posting a .448 batting average with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

The Red Sox have homered in each of their last eight games and have hit multiple home runs in six straight, thanks to long balls from Dustin Pedroia and Casey Kotchman on Thursday night.

Pedroia's home run was his eighth of the year. Heading into the month of July, he had just two home runs, one of which came in his first at-bat of the season. He's since picked up the pace, hitting three in his last five games.

Kotchman's jack was his first in a Red Sox uniform. It came in just his third at-bat with the Red Sox.

Victor Martinez experienced his first hitless night with the Red Sox, going 0-for-3 but reaching base three times via walks.

Kevin Youkilis became just the fifth player to record back-to-back seasons with at least 20 home runs while playing at least 30 games at first and third base. Youkilis started in the outfield on Thursday night for the first time since 2006.

It wasn't pretty, but Billy Traber gave the Red Sox some much-needed innings Thursday night. The 29-year-old former Yankee went 3 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and five runs but saving the arms of the bullpen for what is sure to be a long weekend series.

Yankees
The 16-run outburst on Thursday was the highest run total of the season for the Bombers.

The Yankees have enjoyed the summer months, going 22-10 in July and August thus far. They are 15-5 in the second half.

In beating the Red Sox on Thursday, the Yankees have now beaten each of their opponents at least once.

The eight-game losing streak to start the season series with the Red Sox was the Yankees' longest since 1990, when they lost all 12 games to the Oakland A's.

Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira both homered on Thursday. Though they didn't hit back-to-back shots, they have done so five times this season. That mark ties them for most in franchise history with Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez (2005), Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio (1936) and Gehrig and Babe Ruth (1927).

Black and Blue

Red Sox
Jed Lowrie left the game Thursday night after attempting to check his swing. Lowrie reportedly felt numbness in his left hand. His status is uncertain.

Rocco Baldelli
was placed on the disabled list on Thursday with a left ankle contusion. He could be back on Aug. 21.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, on the 60-day DL, is expected to throw off a mound next week as he recovers from weakness in his throwing shoulder.

Tim Wakefield threw a side session on Wednesday but has not shown enough progress to indicate he will be rejoining the Red Sox this week or even next.

Catcher George Kottaras was placed on the DL retroactively to July 30 with a lower back strain.

First baseman Jeff Bailey began a rehab stint on Aug. 3, though his road back to the big league club is now blocked by Victor Martinez and Casey Kotchman.

Jason Bay is questionable with a strained right hamstring.

Yankees
Outfielder Brett Gardner was placed on the DL on July 26 with a fractured left thumb.

Damaso Marte began a rehab assignment on July 21 as he recovers from shoulder tendinitis.

Outfielder Xavier Nady and pitcher Chien-Ming Wang are both out for the season with shoulder injuries that required surgeries.

This Date in Red Sox History

In 1982, Jim Rice hops into the stands to help a young boy who was struck by a foul ball. Rice carries the boy into the Red Sox' clubhouse, before he is taken by ambulance to Children's Hospital, where doctors save the boy's life.

Overheard

"Am I surprised? Yeah, I’m very surprised. I couldn’t throw batting practice and give up the runs I’m giving up."
–John Smoltz, after his shortest start of the year

Press Box

Red Sox
The future of John Smoltz is very much in question.

The boo birds were out for David Ortiz.

The injury situation is becoming a little hard to follow these days.

Yankees
The Yanks' first win over the Sox was a big one.

Lost in the blowout victory was Joba Chamberlain's poor performance.

Robinson Cano was among three Yankees placed on trade waivers on Wednesday.

MLB
Andre Ethier hit a walk-off home run Thursday night.

Cliff Lee won his home debut with Philadelphia.

Prince Fielder and Guillermo Mota were fined for incidents on Wednesday night.

Outlook

The Red Sox are limping along through early August while the Yankees are cruising. The Bombers could, with three more wins this weekend, effectively take an insurmountable division lead of 6 1/2 games. Though the Red Sox don't need to win all three remaining games, they'll need to take at least one to stay afloat as they battle injuries. That task lies in the hands of Josh Beckett on Friday night.

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