The Evil Empire otherwise known as the hated New York Yankees visit Fenway Park this weekend for the first series of the season between the Bronx Bombers and the Sox, and Bovada projects New York as a -125 series favorite for the three-game set with Boston at -105.
Of course those numbers are presuming no key injuries for either team. Boston will have the advantage of being off on Thursday, while New York will have to travel after a night game with Minnesota and have a quick turnaround for the 3:05 p.m. start Friday.
Of course this weekend the Red Sox celebrate the 100th birthday of Fenway Park, which is Friday. The Sox and Yanks both will wear throwback uniforms and caps for that one; they faced off to open the park on April 20, 1912. The Red Sox will be wearing a solid white hat, while the Yankees will be wearing a grey cap with the NY logo.
In addition on Friday, fans are asked to get to their seats by 2 p.m. so they can join in the ceremony and stadium-wide toast (with Welch’s juice) in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest toast in one venue. The current record-holder came June 26, 2010, during a Tokyo Yakult Swallows Japanese league baseball game against the Hashin Tigers at Meiji Jingo Stadium in Tokyo, 27,126 people raised a glass together.
As for the on-field action, Boston won the season series with New York 12-6 last year, including three-game sweeps both at home and in the Bronx. Those were the most wins the Sox had against any club. But New York took two of three in the penultimate series of the regular season in late September to play a key role in the Sox missing out on the wild card.
The pitching matchup for the opener is projected to the Yanks' Ivan Nova against the Red Sox' Clay Buchholz in a game that will be a near pick'em.
Nova (2-0, 4.15 ERA) gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings in beating the Angels on Sunday night, striking out eight in the process. Nova has now won 14 consecutive regular-season starts dating to last June 3. Last year, Nova started twice against Boston and didn’t get a decision in either, allowing eight runs and 15 hits in 10 2/3 innings.
Buchholz (1-0, 9.82 ERA) has struggled in two starts but got the win last time out against Tampa Bay despite allowing six hits, three walks and five runs in seven innings. He got better as he went on, retiring the last eight batters he faced. Buchholz made two starts against the Yankees in 2011, going 1-1 with 5.06 ERA and 13 hits allowed in 10 2/3 innings.
Saturday there will be live play-by-play betting at the book for the 4:05 p.m. Fox nationally televised game. The projected starters are New York's Freddy Garcia against Boston's Felix Doubront, with the Sox likely to be slight favorites. Garcia (0-1, 6.97 ERA) was hit hard Monday in a loss to the Twins, allowing five runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA last year against Boston (four starts, one relief appearance). Doubront (0-0, 5.40 ERA) has gone exactly five innings each in his first two starts of the year. He faced the Yanks three times in relief last year, getting one save and allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings.
The series finale Sunday night on ESPN also will have live play-by-play betting at the book. The Yanks will be solid favorites in that one as lefty ace CC Sabathia is scheduled to face Boston’s Daniel Bard (0-2, 4.63 ERA). Sabathia pitched Tuesday against Minnesota. Bard struck out seven and walked seven while giving up one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rays on Monday. Because the Sox are off Thursday, however, Bard could be skipped Sunday in favor of Jon Lester, who pitched Tuesday against Texas and would thus be on normal rest. Certainly a Lester start would vastly affect the line.