Both are leading their respective divisions and a matchup between the two in this year’s World Series seems like a distinct possibility.
The last two World Series champions look to continue their strong play Friday night when they meet in Philadelphia for the start of a three-game interleague series.
Boston (36-24) arrives at Citizens Bank Park after rallying for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees on Thursday and improving to 8-0 against their archrivals this season.
The Red Sox have won eight of 10 to move two games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East. Boston hasn’t had a three-game division lead since May 8, 2008.
Ortiz appears to be breaking out of his slump, but might not see much playing time in Philadelphia, where there is no DH.
When the Red Sox visited Philadelphia (35-23) last season, Ortiz was out with a left wrist injury and Boston still took two of three. The Red Sox are 12-3 against the Phillies since 2004.
Although Philadelphia hasn’t had much success against Boston lately, it has won 10 of 13 overall since May 29.
The Phillies rallied to defeat the New York Mets 6-3 in 10 innings Thursday to take two of three from their division rivals and open a four-game lead in the NL East.
“It’s a tough ballclub, a bunch of mentally strong guys in here, all 25,” said Ibanez, who signed a $31.5 million, three-year contract with Philadelphia in the offseason.
Lester had a perfect game for 6 1-3 innings before finishing with a two-hitter in a 8-1 victory over Texas on Saturday. It was his first complete game since throwing a no-hitter against Kansas City on May 19, 2008.
The left-hander struck out 11 Rangers and has allowed just two runs and five hits with 23 strikeouts over 15 innings in winning his last two starts.
Lester has had little trouble against the NL, going 4-0 with a 3.05 ERA in seven career interleague starts with Boston winning six. In his only career start against the Phillies on June 17, Lester gave up six hits in seven innings of a 3-0 win.
The right-hander pitched well enough to win at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, allowing one run and five hits in six innings, but Philadelphia lost 3-2 in 12 innings.
“I feel like my stuff is coming out pretty good,” Blanton told the Phillies’ official Web site. “I feel like I have an idea where I’m going to throw it instead of throwing it up there and hoping it goes to the right spot.”
Blanton, who made 118 starts for Oakland from 2004-08 before being traded to Philadelphia last season, is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA in eight starts against the Red Sox. He went 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts versus Boston last season.
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