The homer-happy New York Yankees appear to have hit Boston at the perfect time.
After rallying from a nine-run deficit, the Yankees will try to complete a three-game sweep of the stumbling Red Sox on Sunday night.
New York trailed 9-0 after five innings Saturday after starter Freddy Garcia failed to make it out of the second, but Mark Teixeira homered twice and Nick Swisher hit a grand slam in the seventh and a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth as the Yankees rallied against the imploding Boston bullpen for a 15-9 victory. Fourteen of those runs came off Red Sox relievers.
New York (9-6), which has won three straight and is 9-3 since opening the season getting swept by Tampa Bay, has hit 12 homers over the last three games including five in Friday's game. The Yankees are averaging 8.2 runs and batting .346 over their last five contests.
"That was pretty cool,'' Teixeira said of Saturday's come-from-behind win. "I've played a lot of games, and that may be the most fun regular-season game I've ever been a part of."
The Red Sox (4-10) certainly couldn't describe their April as "cool," and new manager Bobby Valentine may already be on the hot seat after the Fenway fans booed him off the field Saturday. For Boston, which has already endured the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury to a separated shoulder and had to deal with a firestorm earlier this week surrounding Valentine's comments about Kevin Youkilis, the most immediate concern may be the bullpen and its 8.44 ERA.
The pitching staff as a whole has allowed 10 or more runs in four games this season, including two contests this week in which it allowed at least 15. Opponents have swatted 26 home runs off the Red Sox - 15 in the last four games - putting Boston on pace to surrender a major league-record 301 long balls.
"I think we've hit rock bottom," Valentine said after Saturday's loss, the team's fifth straight. "If this isn't bottom, we need to find some new ends of the earth."
Looking to complete its first sweep at Fenway since taking five straight games Aug. 18-21, 2006, New York will give the ball to CC Sabathia (1-0, 5.59 ERA).
Sabathia won 19 games in 2011, but just one in five chances against Boston while posting a 6.39 ERA against the Red Sox.
The left-hander takes the mound after picking up his first win of the season. Sabathia gave up three runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings of an 8-3 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday. He struck out eight and only walked one.
Teixeira and the Yankees lineup will try to provide Sabathia with some support against Boston starter Daniel Bard (0-2, 4.63). Teixeira has been outstanding against Bard, going 5 for 15 with four homers.
Bard looked much better in his second start than his first. The converted reliever gave up one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of Monday's 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, but one of the seven walks he issued came with the bases loaded in the seventh.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 27 relief appearances versus the Yankees.