The New York Yankees were in good position to compete for the AL East title before they got a single win over their archrivals. Now that they’ve found a way to beat the Boston Red Sox, they appear to be separating themselves as the favorites in the race.
Not long after Alex Rodriguez(notes) homered to end a 15-inning marathon, the Yankees look to pull further away in the standings with their third consecutive win over the struggling Red Sox - and sixth straight overall - Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
New York (67-42) came into this series with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL East despite its 0-8 record against second-place Boston. With wins in the first two games of the four-game set, however, the Yankees have built their biggest advantage of the season.
While the Yankees have to be pleased with their growing division lead, they don’t expect the Red Sox (62-46) to fade quietly, especially after a 5-hour, 33-minute battle that lasted into Saturday morning. The teams combined to go 0 for 19 with runners in scoring position in the pitchers’ duel. When the game entered the 15th inning, it became the longest scoreless matchup between the longtime rivals.
Soon after that, Rodriguez snapped his longest home run drought of the season with a two-run shot to left, his 20th of the season. He had gone 72 at-bats since his last home run July 19 against Detroit.
“Both teams were remarkable,” said Rodriguez, batting .190 (4 for 21) with five strikeouts and one home run in five games against Boston in 2009. “It was a heavyweight fight, and we were fortunate to have the last hit.”
The Red Sox went 4 for 46 with 14 strikeouts while suffering their fourth straight defeat. They’re 8-12 since the All-Star break while the Yankees have gone 16-5.
Boston now goes up against CC Sabathia(notes) (11-7, 3.95 ERA). The left-hander is 2-5 with a 4.07 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox. In his only game against them since signing with the Yankees in the offseason, he gave up four runs in seven innings in a 4-3 road loss June 11.
Sabathia gave up five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in seven innings of his last start Sunday, but got his third win in four starts as New York defeated the Chicago White Sox 8-5.
He’s allowed at least five runs in four of seven starts since the beginning of July.
Clay Buchholz(notes) (1-1, 6.05) will take the ball for Boston, hoping for a better performance than his last one. The right-hander gave up seven runs in four innings Sunday, but he never trailed as the Red Sox totaled 14 runs in the first four innings of the 18-10 win at Baltimore.
Buchholz’s only two starts against the Yankees came in April of last season. He didn’t get a decision while posting a 7.45 ERA in those games, both Boston losses.
Rodriguez is 2 for 5 with a home run and a strikeout in his career against Buchholz.