The Boston Red Sox are doing their best to make the AL East race a three-team affair.
Boston (63-47) won 6-3 on Friday, pulling within five games of the first-place Yankees (67-41) and 4 1/2 of Tampa Bay in the East. Clay Buchholz(notes) pitched into the eighth inning, and David Ortiz(notes) and Ryan Kalish(notes) homered for the Red Sox, who have won eight of 11 overall and four straight on the road.
“We have to keep on winning - have to keep winning games,” Ortiz said. “Everything else takes care of itself.”
Ortiz has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, batting .317 with six homers and 14 RBIs in that span. That kind of production is sorely needed, as Boston is missing Kevin Youkilis(notes) for the rest of the year with a thumb injury while the timetable remains murky for the return of former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia(notes) (foot).
The Red Sox will try to saddle Sabathia (13-5, 3.19 ERA) with his first regular-season loss at Yankee Stadium since July 2, 2009, against Seattle. He’s 12-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 17 outings in the Bronx since, not counting last year’s postseason.
The ace left-hander, though, has dropped his last two outings overall and will also be trying to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time since April 5-16, 2008, with Cleveland. He gave up three runs over 6 2-3 innings in Sunday’s 3-0 road loss to the Rays.
Sabathia, who had won nine straight decisions before the losses, has issued 14 walks in his last four starts.
“My fastball command hasn’t been good since the All-Star break,” he said.
Sabathia has no decisions and a 4.76 ERA in three starts against Boston this year. He’s probably fortunate that he won’t have to worry about Youkilis, who went 4 for 5 off Sabathia in those games.
Jorge Posada(notes) will likely be back in New York’s lineup after Lance Berkman(notes) served as the designated hitter and Francisco Cervelli(notes) caught Friday. Cervelli dropped a popup that led to three unearned runs.
“Someone’s got to catch it. That’s the bottom line,” manager Joe Girardi said
Lackey will try to shake off a poor outing. He gave up six runs over 5 1-3 innings in Monday’s 6-5 loss to Cleveland, a step back after he’d gone 1-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his previous three starts.
This is Lackey’s first regular-season start at the new Yankee Stadium. He allowed four runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 4-1 loss for the Angels in Game 1 of last year’s AL championship series.