Another New York victory, and the Boston Red Sox’s serious hopes for an AL East title may be merely a memory.
The Yankees seek to continue their sudden dominance of the Red Sox and extend their division lead to a season-high 8 1/2 games when the rivals continue their weekend series Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
Boston (69-52) took the first eight meetings of this season series but New York (77-45) has since turned the tables, winning all five games against the Red Sox this month by a combined score of 45-19. The Yankees had also dropped seven in a row at Fenway before Friday night’s lopsided series opener, which they won 20-11 in the highest-scoring game in the history of this rivalry.
“If you’re carrying games that happen in April and May around and, what are we, in August right now, you’re not going to be a very good team,” said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter(notes), who went 3 for 6 and is batting .543 over his last 11 games.
“They have a great team,” said Boston starter Brad Penny(notes), who took the loss after allowing eight runs in four-plus innings. “One through nine, all can do damage. It’s one of the better hitting teams you’ll face in the league.”
The Yankees began a four-game sweep of the Red Sox two weekends ago with another dominating victory, winning 13-6. Burnett (10-6, 3.69 ERA) started the following contest for New York, and locked up in a pitcher’s duel with Boston ace Josh Beckett(notes). Burnett held the Red Sox to one hit and six walks in 7 2-3 shutout innings, but the game remained scoreless until the 15th, when Rodriguez lifted the Yankees to victory with a two-run homer off Tazawa (1-2, 5.40) - making his major league debut in relief.
“As far as making my major league debut, I’m very happy. I was honored to be in such an important situation,” Tazawa said through a translator. “I wish I could have done a little better.”
This time around, Burnett must hope the Yankees have some offense left in their bats. The right-hander is 0-2 in four August starts despite allowing three runs or fewer in three of those outings, as his teammates have supported him with a total of only five runs. He gave up three runs over eight innings Monday at Oakland, but got charged with a 3-0 loss. The Yankees have since plated 30 runs while winning three straight.
Burnett is 5-1 with a 3.39 ERA in 11 starts against Boston.
Tazawa has lasted five innings in each of his two starts since the loss to New York, winning once and losing once. The 23-year-old right-hander lost 4-3 at Texas on Sunday, when he yielded four runs and 10 hits including two homers.
Though Friday’s loss dropped the Red Sox to a season high-tying 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees, they remained one game in front of Texas for the wild card after the Rangers lost in Tampa Bay. The Rays, however, crept within three games of Boston.