The last time the Boston Red Sox faced the New York Yankees, Pedro Martinez hit Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter on their hands with pitches in the first inning. The two stars were knocked out of the game and didn’t start the following day.
Martinez will be on the mound again as the Red Sox and Yankees open a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Soriano doesn’t think Martinez hit him intentionally on July 7, a game the Yankees eventually won 2-1.
“Pedro said he likes me,” the second baseman said Thursday. “Everybody knows he likes to throw inside.”
Soriano, Jeter and manager Joe Torre didn’t think there would be any carry-over Friday, the first meeting between the AL East rivals since that game. New York headed to Boston with a 2 1/2 -game lead over the second-place Red Sox following Baltimore’s 5-3 win at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.
The Red Sox lost 15-9 at home to Tampa Bay.
“I think everybody knows how we respond to any kind of loss,” Boston manager Grady Little said. “We’ll get this one behind us and we’ll come back ready to go.”
Torre, who grew up in New York watching the New York Giants play the Brooklyn Dodgers 22 times a year, thinks Yankees-Red Sox the fiercest rivalry in baseball.
“The Cubs-Cardinals, that’s more a fun rivalry,” the former St. Louis manager added. “This stuff is more serious.
“Some of our guys are still struggling, but I hope the spirit that comes out when we go to Fenway will come out and get them going. The energy level will be high.”
When the teams met in New York earlier this month, Boston blew out David Wells and Roger Clemens, winning the first two games 10-3 and 10-2 to move within two games of first place. But the Yankees won the final two games 7-1 and 2-1, and the Red Sox left New York trailing by four.
“Psychologically, it kept us from feeling like we were overwhelmed,” Torre said.
STANDINGS: Yankees - 1st place, AL East. Red Sox - 2nd place, 2 1/2 GB, AL East.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (12-3, 3.83 ERA). The burly left-hander have up eight runs, 10 hits—including five homers—and a season-high two walks against the Red Sox in the 10-3 loss on July 4. Wells has bounced back since with a pair of wins against the Cleveland Indians. He is 13-20 with a 5.16 ERA in 47 appearances, including 34 starts, against Boston.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Martinez (7-2, 2.21 ERA). The Dominican right-hander has given up just two earned runs and 18 hits in 28 innings spanning his last four starts. He is 2-0 in that stretch, while the Red Sox have won three of the four games. Martinez is 8-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 career starts against the Yankees.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Yankees - Hideki Matsui, .300 avg.; Jason Giambi, 28 HRs and 79 RBIs; Soriano, 78 runs and 27 SBs. Red Sox - Bill Mueller, .333 avg.; Manny Ramirez, 23 HRs and 75 RBIs; Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra, 79 runs; Johnny Damon, 19 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 6-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Yankees - LF Matsui had a single in the sixth inning Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, which matches his season high. He is 12-for-40 (.300) during that stretch. … The Yankees intend to activate 1B-DH Nick Johnson from the disabled list Friday. Johnson, sidelined since May 14 with a broken right hand, was to finish a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Trenton on Thursday night. … CF Bernie Williams is 8-for-45 (.178) in 12 games since returning from a knee injury on July 9. Red Sox - OF Ramirez is 12-for-21 with three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs in his last six games. … Boston has 409 extra-base hits and is on pace for 656—which would shatter the major league record of 607, set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. … SS Garciaparra and C Jason Varitek are both hitting .342 (13-for-38) against LHP Wells.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Yankees - 32-17 on the road; Red Sox - 33-15 at home.
INJURIES: Yankees - 1B-DH Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL. Red Sox - RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL.