The way the Boston Red Sox are playing, they may never lose again in Yankee Stadium. With only one game left for the Red Sox in the Bronx, such a feat is a realistic possibility.
Boston tries to leave The House That Ruth Built for the final time with a three-game sweep when it wraps up its series with the archrival Yankees on Thursday afternoon.
For the Red Sox (77-55), their final series in the venerable ballpark that opened in 1923 could prove sweet. Boston has taken the first two games of this set by a combined margin of 18-6, including an 11-3 rout Wednesday night. A sweep would be the first at Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox since April 23-25, 2004, and only their second in the Bronx this decade.
More importantly, Boston is dealing a major blow to the Yankees’ playoff aspirations. The first two games of this series have dropped New York seven games behind the Red Sox for the wild card - the best hope for the Yankees (70-62) to extend their streak of 13 consecutive postseason appearances.
“We just dug ourselves a bigger hole,” New York outfielder Johnny Damon said. “This is definitely a tough time for us.”
Jason Bay and Dustin Pedroia each drove in four runs Wednesday - Pedroia’s coming on a grand slam - to help Boston win its third straight game and improve to 6-2 on its most successful road trip of the season.
“I never write the Yankees off until the season’s over and the standings are set,” Pedroia said. “They’ve been around too long and been in the playoffs for such a long time that we’re definitely not counting them out.”
Bay, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Manny Ramirez deal before last month’s trade deadline, has excelled in his first two games as part of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, going 4-for-8 with six RBIs. On Thursday, he’ll be joined in the outfield by another new acquisition - Mark Kotsay.
Boston acquired Kotsay from Atlanta for a minor leaguer Wednesday, adding depth to the outfield one day after J.D. Drew went on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Kotsay, who batted .289 in 88 games with the Braves but is best known for his stellar defense, will play right field on Thursday.
“I know that I’ve gotten messages from people all over the league that said he’s everybody’s all-time favorite. I know he’s a real professional. I know he’s excited about coming here,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He said he’ll do anything we ask to try to help us win.”
Lester has dominated the Yankees in two starts this season, compiling a 1.13 ERA while winning both. He tossed a shutout at Yankee Stadium on July 3, limiting the Yankees to five hits and two walks while striking out eight in Boston’s 7-0 victory.
The left-hander, though, is now trying to bounce back from his worst start of the season. Lester lasted a career-low 2 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 11-0 loss to Toronto, allowing a career high-tying seven earned runs with eight hits and two walks.
Mussina fared better than Lester in his last outing, but wound up without a decision at Baltimore last Friday, when he yielded four runs and nine hits in six innings and left the game with a 4-3 deficit. New York rallied to win 9-4.
Mussina has 266 victories, but is seeking the first 20-win season of his 18-year career.
The 39-year-old right-hander is 20-17 with a 3.74 ERA versus the Red Sox.