The Red Sox won’t be around to help close it next month, but in their final series at the Bronx landmark, they can play a big role in assuring it won’t see any games beyond September.
Sitting five games behind Boston in the AL wild card race, the Yankees welcome the Red Sox to Yankee Stadium for the final time beginning on Tuesday, when two of baseball’s most storied franchises open a crucial three-game series.
New York (70-60) has won more than 63 percent of its nearly 800 home games against the Red Sox since the venue opened its doors in April 1923. That includes perhaps the most distinguished game in the longstanding rivalry, when the Yankees stunned the Red Sox in a come-from-behind win in Game 7 of the 2003 AL championship series, extending Boston’s World Series title drought to 86 years.
But the Red Sox (75-55) have won two championships since then, while the Yankees have lost their last four postseason series starting with the 2004 ALCS to Boston. If New York has designs on extending its 13-year playoff streak - and extending the closing date of Yankee Stadium past Sept. 21 - its fate may depend greatly on the next three games.
“I feel like it’s a must-win series,” Andy Pettitte, Tuesday’s starter for the Yankees, told the team’s official Web site. “I don’t necessarily feel like we need to sweep them, but I feel like we need to win the series.”
Boston can extend its lead over New York to eight games with a sweep, but despite that - and the series’ historical significance - Red Sox manager Terry Francona says it’s just another series.
“Because of the media and the fans, there’s more energy or electricity in the ballpark, but you can’t bring in a pitcher an inning earlier,” Francona said. “They don’t give you two wins when you beat the Yankees.”
The Yankees come in off an impressive sweep in Baltimore. The last-place Orioles had taken eight of 12 from New York, but the Yankees scored 22 runs in the three games, capped by an 8-7 win on Sunday.
Pettitte (13-9, 4.17 ERA) has started 29 regular-season games against the Red Sox in his career, going 16-7 with a 3.54 ERA, but he hasn’t fared as well recently. In his last five starts versus Boston, the left-hander has a 6.23 ERA, though he’s 2-1.
He had been 0-2 with a 7.40 ERA in his last four outings prior to Wednesday, when he won at Toronto by giving up a run over seven innings in a 5-1 victory.
The Red Sox are 4-2 thus far on a nine-game road trip. They had to do some extra work on Sunday against the Blue Jays, but won 6-5 on Jed Lowrie’s home run in the 11th inning.
“Any series we have with New York is going to be a big series, but when we come off of a win like this, I feel like everyone will show up and just have a little more energy and be able to feed off this game,” Lowrie said.
Tim Wakefield (7-8, 3.67) gave up the 11th-inning homer to Aaron Boone in Game 7 in 2003, and since then, he’s 1-4 with a 4.07 ERA in the Bronx. This will be his second start of the season at Yankee Stadium, having given up three runs in 6 1-3 innings on July 6 in a 5-4 Yankees win in 10 innings.
Wakefield will be making his first start since Aug. 6, as he’s been on the disabled list with tightness in his right shoulder. He was 1-0 with a 0.73 ERA in his last two outings, and allowed one earned run in six innings in an 8-2 win at Kansas City in his last start.
Pettitte topped Wakefield in a 10-3 Yankees win in Boston on July 26. Pettitte gave up three runs—one earned—in six innings, while Wakefield allowed six in 5 1-3.
The teams have split their first 12 games this season.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Harper's 4 hits help Nats beat Dickey, Mets 5-3
- Rangers put Josh Hamilton on unconditional release waivers
- Arrieta dominates for 8 innings, Cubs beat Padres 5-3
- Royals extend win streak to 9 by beating Marlins 1-0
- Buchholz solid in another spot start, Red Sox beat Rays 2-1
- Davis hits 33rd home run in A's 9-1 win over Indians