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The New York Yankees are ahead by seven and a half games in the AL East and they have a golden opportunity this weekend to create even more separation from the Boston Red Sox.

The AL East archrivals will meet in a four game set this weekend at Fenway Park. The two rivals have created some memorable moments during the 100 years of the stadium. Going into their first series of the year back in April, the Yankees and Red Sox were both off to slow starts. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2 in game one of the series and were trailing 9-0 heading into the sixth inning of game two. The Yankees would score 15 unanswered runs to defeat the Red Sox 15-9.

Since that series the Yankees would go one to sweep the Red Sox and start ascending to the top of the AL East. That series proved costly for the Red Sox as they would slip to last place in the division.

The Yankees coming into the weekend series salvaged the last game of their three game series with the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday night, but prior to that had dropped their last nine games in Tropicana Field. The Yankees are 3-4 in their last seven games and would enjoy the chance of putting the Red Sox in a deeper hole in the AL East.

Red Sox vs. Yankees Tickets – 7/6, 7/7, 7/8

The Red Sox coming into the weekend series with the Yankees were swept by the Oakland Athletics and have lost the last five of seven games. The Red Sox were on fire as of late until they went to the West to play the Mariners and Athletics. The Red Sox will be looking to cut into the lead of the Yankees and climb out of the basement in the AL East.

The Red Sox and Yankees always bring out the best in each other, so look for this series to be nothing less than exciting for fans of both teams. It does not matter where the teams are in the standings; neither team likes to lose to their rival. Let’s take a look at the potential matchups going into the weekend series.

Friday July 6: Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.17 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.06 ERA)                       Kuroda has pitched well as of late, as he has gone 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA during the month of June. He pitched at least seven innings in five out of six starts in June, taking a lot of pressure off of New York’s bullpen. Kuroda has stepped up and pitched admirably to anchor a staff that’s missing two of its best starters. Beckett has struggled like most of the Red Sox starters and his last win came on May 20 against the Phillies. In three June starts, Beckett is 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA and has seen his offense labor to score runs for him. Since 2009, Beckett is 7-3 against the Yankees, but sports a 5.38 ERA against them.

Saturday July 7 Game 1: Phil Hughes (9-6, 4.29 ERA) vs. Franklin Morales (1-1, 2.51 ERA)

Though his ERA may not show it, Hughes has pitched a lot better as of late. On the 1st of May Hughes had an ERA of 7.48, but after going 4-1 with an ERA of 2.67 in the month of June his ERA is now down to a respectable 4.29. Hughes is coming off a strong outing against the White Sox going eight innings, but has struggled against the Red Sox.  The Red Sox have had Hughes’ number in the past, as he’s 2-4 with a 5.73 ERA since 2009 against Boston. Boston will counter with Franklin Morales for the injured Dice-K. The Yankees have not seen much of Morales and that favors the Red Sox. The Yankees have been known to struggle against pitches they have never seen before. Morales earned his first win of the season in a starting role against the Braves. He held them to two earned runs on seven hits over six innings of work while fanning eight Braves.

 

Saturday July 7 Game 2: Freddy Garcia (2-2, 5.94 ERA) vs. Felix Doubront (8-4, 4.42 ERA)

Freddy Garcia is back into the starting rotation for the Yankees with injuries to their two left handed pitchers. Garcia pitched well in his first start against the Rays on July 2nd surrendering only five hits and two earned runs getting a no decision in five plus innings of work. Garcia will also want to improve from his last outing against the Red Sox on April 21st, where he gave up five runs in a mere 1.2 IP. Opposing Garcia will be the left handed pitcher Doubront. Doubront has been one of the best, if not the best pitcher on the Boston staff tying pitcher Clay Buchholz for most wins on the team. He last pitched against the Yankees on April 21; where he surrendered four hits and one run over six innings get the no decision.

 

Sunday July 8: Ivan Nova (9-3, 4.05 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (5-5, 4.33 ERA)

The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball will present the best pitching matchup of the series. Nova has been the best pitcher for the Yankees staff behind Sabathia. Prior to his loss to the Rays on July 3; where he gave up three earned runs on seven hits over six innings, Nova had been 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA in the month of June. Nova beat the Red Sox back on April 20th, scattering two runs over seven hits over the course of six innings. Boston will counter with Lester, who has not looked like himself lately. Lester has pitched well of late and in the month of June has gone 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA. Lester has to face the Yankees this season, but went 2-2 last season against the Yankees with an ERA of 6.66.

Yankees and Red Sox play July 6-8 with a double header scheduled for Saturday July 7. The first game on July 7 will start 12:35 and is the rescheduled game that was rained out on April 22nd. Second game will start at 7:10pm.

Notes: The Yankees will be without their two left handed pitches for this weekend series in Boston. Andy Pettitte was placed on the 60-day DL after suffering a fractured left fibula as he took a line drive come backer off the ankle. CC Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL (due to a strained muscle in his left leg. Boston will be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia as he was placed on the 15 day DL with a thumb injury.

 

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