Rivalry is Bronx-Bound With First Place on the Line The Yankees and Red Sox have gone in opposite directions since Sunday with the Bombers winning two straight and the Sox losing two straight. It's been 56 days since the rivals last met, and now with 2 1/2 games separating the AL East powers, a four-game series in the Bronx kicks off on Thursday with a postseason feel to it.

Thursday will be the first time David Ortiz steps foot into Yankee Stadium since his positive test was reported, the first time Victor Martinez experiences the historical rivalry and the first time the Yankees and Red Sox have been this close in August since 2006, when the Yankees swept the Red Sox in a five-game series at Fenway Park.

When and Where

7:05 p.m, Aug. 6, 2009
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Records

Red Sox (62-44, 2nd place in AL East)
Yankees (65-42, 1st place in AL East)

Skinny

The Red Sox' loss to the Rays on Wednesday night dropped them 2 1/2 games back of the Yankees with the Bombers completing a two-game sweep of the Blue Jays in Toronto to extend their winning streak to three. There are several scenarios as to what the the AL East will look like come Monday morning after four heated games at the Stadium, but it's never wise to try to think ahead and predict the outcome when these two teams meet.

Starting Lineups

Red Sox
Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Derek Jeter, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B Johnny Damon, LF
Victor Martinez, C Mark Teixeira, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, LF Alex Rodriguez, 3B
David Ortiz, DH Hiddeki Matsui, DH
J.D. Drew RF Jorge Posada, C
Mike Lowell, 3B Robinson Cano, 2B
Casey Kotchman, 1B Nick Swisher, RF
Jed Lowrie, SS Miguel Cabrera, CF

Pitching Matchup

RHP Joba Chamberlain (7-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP John Smoltz (2-4, 7.12 ERA)
Chamberlain has been arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball
since the All-Star break, going 3-0 in his three starts with a 0.83
ERA. He has allowed just two earned runs over that stretch and
has 19 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. In two starts against Boston this season, Joba is 0-1 but does have 14 K's in 11 innings. He has the chance to get the Yankees into the win column against the Red Sox with a strong start on Thursday night in what is the most lopsided pitching matchup of the series, heavily favoring the Yankees.

Smoltz has been far from good since joining the Red Sox, failing to pitch what is considered a quality start in any of his seven
outings. With his first season in the AL coming
at the age of 42, Smoltz has yet to adjust to the quality of hitting in
the offensive-minded league. His control has been good, allowing just five walks in 36
2/3 innings but his stuff hasn't been, as he has allowed 50 hits and 29 earned runs. Smoltz has
been unable to limit the damage when in jams, with the opposition hitting .381 against him with runners in scoring position. Left-handed
hitters are hitting .397 off Smoltz and with Yankees prepared to have
seven lefties in Thursday's starting lineup in hitter-friendly Yankee
Stadium. It could be a short night for the veteran righty.

Stat Sheet

Red Sox
Jason Bay is 5-for-25 (.200) in his last eight games with one home run and three RBIs. He has hit one home run since July 7.

Victor Martinez is 10-for-21 (.476) with one home run and six RBIs since joining the Red Sox.

Since the All-Star break, J.D. Drew is 12-for-52 (.231) with no home runs and five RBIs.

Jason Varitek is 9-for-49 (.184) in his last 15 games.

Hideki Okajima has allowed just two earned runs in his last 11 1/3 innings.

Kevin Youkilis is 18-for-38 in his last nine games with three home runs
and nine RBIs. He has raised his average from .291 to .312.

Since July 24, Jacoby Ellsbury is 22-for-56 (.393) in 12 games with seven stolen bases.

Mike Lowell is 17-for-45 (.378) with one home run and 12 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Yankees
Johnny Damon
is 10-for-22 (.455) in his last five games with two home runs and six RBIs.

Derek Jeter has recorded a hit in 32 of his last 37 games.

In his last 25 2/3 innings, Phil Hughes has allowed 16 hits and three earned runs for a 1.05 ERA. He has struck out 33 and walked just five in that span.

Melky Cabrera is 0-for-8 since hitting for the cycle against the White Sox on Aug. 2.

Alex Rodriguez has gone 61 at-bats without a home run, the longest streak of his Yankee career.

Mariano Rivera has pitched 19 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings,
striking out 18 and walking three. He has converted 31 of 32 save opportunities this
season and 100 of his last 103, dating back to 2007.

In 19 games since the All-Star break, Mark Teixeira is 25-for-78 (.321) with six home runs in 17 RBIs.

On the recent nine-game road trip, Hideki Matsui was 9-for-24 (.375) with one home run, three doubles and five RBIs.

Black and Blue

Red Sox
Jeff Bailey
is on the 15-day DL with a high ankle sprain. He began his rehab on Aug. 3.

George Kottaras is on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. His time on the DL is retroactive to July 30.

Tim Wakefield is on the 15-day DL with a lower back pain and now also sciatica that has set back his rehab.

Yankees
Brett Gardner
was placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured left thumb on July 26 after sliding into second base.

Damaso Marte was placed on the 15-day DL with left shoulder tendinits.
He began his rehab on July 16 and has appeared in nine games in the
minors.

This Date in Red Sox History

Scott Hatteberg hits into a triple play in the fourth inning against the Rangers in 2001, before hitting a grand slam in the Red Sox' 10-7 win.

Overheard

"I don’t think the games are going to be boring."
Mike Lowell, in the Boston Globe, on the Yankees-Red Sox series this weekend.

Press Box

Red Sox
Red Sox' woes continue at the Trop.

Victor Martinez will get his first taste of the rivalry.

David Ortiz better prepare for the crowd at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees
The Yankees swept the Blue Jays in preparation of the Red Sox.

Joba Chamberlain is peaking at the right time this season.

The Bombers bullpen is ready to go this weekend.

MLB
The Angels' hot streak has come to an end.

J.A. Happ is making a case to stay in the Phillies rotation.

Erik Bedard is hurt again and will undergo another MRI.

Outlook

This series is certainly the biggest to date this season, but with six games remaining between the two clubs following the four-game set, there is still plenty of time for drama in the AL East. While most expect a split in the four games this weekend, a sweep or series win for either side would put a twist into the rivalry this season and in the standings.