So far this season, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry hasn’t been much of a contest.
New York looks to begin chipping away at Boston’s impressive lead in the AL East standings when the teams open a three-game series Monday at Yankee Stadium.
The Red Sox (30-13) own the best record in baseball and a 10 1/2-game lead over the Yankees (19-23) and Baltimore, who are tied for second place in the East. The margin is the largest for Boston since it held a 10 1/2-game over New York on Sept. 20, 1995.
“Right now, it’s still May,” Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis told his team’s official Web site. “You can’t just play two months. It would be great if the season ended today, and we were the first-place team.”
The Red Sox have dominated the Yankees so far this season, sweeping a three-game series at Fenway Park April 20-22, and taking two of three in the Bronx one week later.
The Yankees are 10-9 since the last meeting, while Boston is 14-5 over that span.
“It’s their problem right now,” Boston slugger David Ortiz told the Red Sox’s official Web site. “We’re playing well. We’re doing our thing right now. They have to figure out what they need to do to beat us.”
The Red Sox have won four of five games overall, and took two of three at home against the Atlanta Braves over the weekend. Youkilis went 3-for-3 with a homer in Sunday’s 6-3 win, and is batting .446 (25-for-56) during a 13-game hitting streak.
The Yankees, meanwhile, beat the New York Mets 6-2 on Sunday to end a three-game losing streak and salvage one game during the weekend’s Subway Series. Tyler Clippard, promoted from Triple-A after Darrell Rasner broke a finger Saturday, became the seventh rookie pitcher to start for the Yankees, but gave up just one run in six strong innings to earn the win.
“Until we can straighten ourselves out, we can’t be concerned about catching someone else,” manager Joe Torre said of the upcoming series.
The Yankees will send Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 4.54 ERA) to the mound in the opener.
The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings of an 8-1 win over the White Sox on Wednesday, helping the Yankees earn a doubleheader split in Chicago. He bounced back nicely from his start on May 10, when he allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 14-2 loss to Texas.
Wang is 2-4 with a 5.05 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against the Red Sox. He has lost each of his last two starts against them, including a 7-4 home defeat on April 29, when he allowed four runs in six innings.
Boston, meanwhile, moved Tim Wakefield (4-4, 2.41) back a day so he could start Monday’s opener. The 40-year-old knuckleballer is coming off his worst outing of the season, as he allowed five runs and nine hits in seven innings of Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to Detroit.
The Red Sox have given him just eight runs of support in his last nine defeats dating to last season.
Wakefield is 9-14 with a 4.61 ERA in 43 career appearances, including 26 starts, against the Yankees. He has lost his last two starts against them, including a defeat on April 28 at Yankee Stadium in which he allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings.
Wakefield has been strong on the road this season, going 3-2 with a 1.39 ERA in five starts.