New York can’t keep Boston’s hitters in the park. If that doesn’t change, the Yankees are going to have trouble keeping the Red Sox in second place.
Andy Pettitte will try to cool off Boston’s red-hot bats when the Yankees and Red Sox resume their four-game series.
The Red Sox came into Yankee Stadium trailing by four games in the AL East, but have taken two games off that deficit in dominant fashion by beating up on David Wells and Roger Clemens in the first two games.
Boston hit a record seven homers in its 10-3 win in Friday’s series opener, then hit three more Saturday in a 10-2 romp. David Ortiz has four homers in two days against New York pitching after entering the series with just five all season.
New York’s staff had allowed a league-low 70 homers in its first 83 games.
“They’re hot. They’ve been teeing off on a lot of people lately,” shortstop Derek Jeter said. “Usually with our pitching staff, you don’t see that.”
For New York, the series has looked similar to last season’s division series, when the Anaheim Angels toyed with the Yankees’ highly regarded staff and won in four games.
“We have to get off our heels and get a well-pitched ballgame,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
That responsibility falls on Pettitte, who beat the Red Sox earlier this season and is 11-4 with a 2.55 ERA lifetime against them.
John Burkett, who has never defeated the Yankees in the regular season, goes for the Red Sox—who don’t seem like they need a well-pitched game anyway. Boston boasts a major league-leading .298 batting average.
“Everybody knows we swing the bat,” said Ortiz, who has homered twice in both games. “We’re not afraid.”
If Boston wins Sunday, it will have a chance to tie New York for first place on Monday with ace Pedro Martinez on the mound.
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 2 GB, AL East. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Burkett (6-3, 5.26 ERA). Burkett is 0-5 with a 10.09 ERA in nine games, including eight starts, against the Yankees. He has won three straight decisions and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last five outings.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Pettitte (9-6, 4.78 ERA). Pettitte has won four straight starts and is 5-1 in his last seven. The veteran left-hander has surrendered 10 hits in both of his last two outings, spanning 13 1-3 innings, but the Yankees scored a combined 14 runs in the two games.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Nomar Garciaparra, .333 avg. and 73 runs; Manny Ramirez, 20 HRs and 66 RBIs; Johnny Damon, 16 SBs. Yankees - Hideki Matsui, .309 avg.; Jason Giambi, 23 and 64 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 69 runs and 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 4-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - Boston is a season-high 15 games over .500. … The Red Sox have 10 or more hits in 12 of their last 14 games. … RHP Burkett did beat the Yankees while pitching for the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the 1996 AL division series. Yankees - New York has scored 32 runs in Pettitte’s last four starts. … RF Raul Mondesi, out of the starting lineup Saturday for the first time this season because of a hip injury, could miss three or four days, according to Torre. … The Yankees’ three-game losing streak is their longest since a season-high five-game skid from May 22-26.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 22-23 on the road; Yankees - 23-19 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - 1B-OF Jeremy Giambi (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Casey Fossum (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL. Yankees - 1B Nick Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; OF Bernie Williams (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Antonio Osuna (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL; RF Mondesi (hip), day-to-day.