New York (24-18) at Boston (25-16)

Fair Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon May 22, 2006
  • TV: ESPN, NESN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Alex Rodriguez has already been criticized by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner once this season.

If his play doesn’t pick up when the Yankees begin a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Monday at Fenway Park, he could be in line for even harsher words.

Steinbrenner criticized Rodriguez on May 9 after the third baseman made two errors in a 14-3 loss to Boston.

Rodriguez answered him the next night by hitting a homer off Curt Schilling in a 7-3 Yankees win, their only victory in four games against Boston this season.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the 2005 AL MVP has been able to do against Schilling (6-2, 4.17 ERA) and the Red Sox.

Rodriguez is 3-for-12 against Boston this season and is batting .182 (4-for-22) with two homers and three RBIs against Schilling, who starts for the Red Sox on Monday.

Those numbers don’t bode well for Rodriguez, who had a dreadful performance at the plate in a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday. Rodriguez went 0-for-4, grounded into a double play and left seven men on base.

He hasn’t homered since May 13 against Oakland and has one RBI in his last eight games.

The Yankees, who dropped two of three to the Mets, left 15 men on base in Sunday’s loss.

“Every inning we had opportunities to break the game wide open,” Rodriguez said.

Now, the Yankees will shift their attention from one big rivalry to arguably the biggest in sports. And they received some news Sunday that may help a lineup that has been beset by injuries.

Catcher Jorge Posada, who’s missed the last two games because of back spasms, could be in the lineup Monday while Gary Sheffield, who stopped a hitting session off a tee just two days earlier, took batting practice on Sunday and declared himself ready to play.

The right fielder, who was hitting .327 when he injured his left wrist, was eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday and will play a rehab game at Double-A Trenton on Monday before rejoining the team.

“He says he feels good. Obviously, he took a good step today,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. “He’s one of the guys we desperately need to come back, and he’s in the position to come back at some point. When, I still can’t tell you.”

Posada’s presence would be helpful against Schilling, who generally has held the Yankees’ big bats in check. Posada had a homer and two RBIs on May 10 against Schilling and is batting .476 (10-for-21) against him in his career.

Despite Schilling’s performance in that 7-3 loss, in which he allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings, he has been tough on Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon.

Jeter is batting .212 (7-for-33) with a homer and three RBIs while Damon, who was greeted with boos and cheers in his first trip back to Fenway Park, is 2-for-9 against Schilling.

Overall, Schilling is 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 16 career regular season appearances against the Yankees.

Chien-Ming Wang (4-1, 3.79) looks for his fourth straight victory when he starts for New York on Monday. Wang has allowed five earned runs combined in his last three outings. He is 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts against the Red Sox.

Wang didn’t earn a decision May 1, a game Boston won 7-3.

The Red Sox hold a 1 1/2 -game lead over New York in the AL East and finished 4-2 on their road trip, although they lost 10-5 to Philadelphia on Sunday.

Boston beat New York 7-3 in the only game between the teams at Fenway Park this season. The other game of the series was rained out.

Mark Loretta will be happy to see the Yankees again. He is batting .476 (10-for-21) with six RBIs in four games against New York, although he is 0-for-3 against Wang. Loretta is batting .265 against the rest of the majors.

“You can’t help but get energized with these games, the crowd and the hoopla,” he said. “I try to take the emotion out of it and just go up there and try to hit the ball hard.”

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Starting Pitchers

C. Wang Atl vs. C. Schilling Bos
19-6 Record 15-7
3.63 ERA 3.97
76 K 183
52 BB 28
1.31 WHIP 1.22