He’ll also be attempting to become a part of major league history.
Pettitte and the Yankees try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox, who will be looking to win their 10th straight when the teams complete their first series of the season.
It was Boston’s biggest comeback win against New York since 1968 as the teams swapped leads four times in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“Lot of pitching changes. Lot of runs. Lot of commercials,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “There’s that many pitches thrown, and it seems like every one is of consequence. It can drain you.”
The Yankees will now turn to Pettitte (2-0, 2.53 ERA), who has been the team’s best starter this season. The left-hander has plenty of experience against Boston in his career, going 16-8 with a 3.74 ERA in 32 appearances. He’s 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 15 games at Fenway.
If Pettitte earns the win and Rivera picks up the save, it will be the 58th time Rivera has closed out a victory for Pettitte, and they’ll pass Oakland Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and starter Bob Welch for the highest total in major league history.
“It’s a lot of longevity,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official Web site after Rivera saved Pettitte’s 5-3 win over Oakland on Tuesday. “The way they take care of themselves, the way they work at their trade, to have that opportunity to tie that is pretty amazing. Those two guys have been staples here for a long time.”
Rivera also wouldn’t mind picking up a save after Friday’s performance. Including playoffs, he has blown 14 saves against Boston - nine at Fenway - for his most versus any opponent.
“He’s been so great for so long,” Girardi said. “It’s baseball and it’s what this series is all about.”
Despite his strong numbers against the Red Sox, Pettitte has had trouble getting numerous Boston players out. Bay, Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek - who hit a grand slam Saturday - are 68-for-182 (.374) with eight homers against the 15-year veteran.
Pettitte will be opposed by Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.18), who’s making his second start of the season after replacing the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka in the rotation. The 24-year-old right-hander held Baltimore to one run and four singles over 5 1-3 innings of a 12-1 win Monday.
Masterson faced the Yankees five times last season, going 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA. He pitched well in his lone start against them July 5 in New York but suffered a 2-1 loss after giving up two runs and six hits over six innings.
Pettitte and Masterson will be looking to pitch deep into the game. Boston and New York have each used 10 relievers in the series, with both games lasting 4 hours, 21 minutes.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano hit two homers and drove in a career high-tying five Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 12. He’s batting .366 with five home runs and 15 RBIs after hitting .151 with two homers and seven RBIs in 29 games last April.
Boston hasn’t won 10 in a row since a 12-game run in interleague play from June 16-29, 2006.