Boston comes into the game on a three game winning streak, continuing their dominance over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as they swept their short two game series. Boston has defeated the Devil Rays eight straight times this year.
In their last series on May 31, the Yanks fell victim to All-Star starter Derek Lowe, as Lowe dominated the Yanks for six innings and no runs. Two days later, Boston starter Frank Castillo mastered New York, giving up just one run over eight innings to take the series in the third game. Luckily for the Yanks, Mike Mussina bailed them out in the second game, pitching a solid game over seven innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out five.
The series opener should be an interesting pitching match up, with Pedro Martinez squaring off against twelve game winner Mike Mussina. The last time Martinez faced the Yanks, he stifled them for seven innings and struck out ten batters. Prior to the All-Star break, Martinez did not live up to his elite pitcher status, as he struggled in late May and much of June, with a 3.73 ERA during a span of six games.
Although Mussina has an outstanding record of 12-3, his 4.54 ERA has been unimpressive. In his last start, Mussina lasted six innings versus the Cleveland Indians while giving up a three run home run and was in position to win his thirteenth game of the year, but the bullpen failed to close out the game. One problem Mussina has had is that he has failed to pitch past the seventh inning in his last seven starts. With the bullpen needing every ounce of rest it can get, "Moose" may need to reverse that trend.
In the second game, Orlando Hernandez gets the start for the Yanks, while Rolando Arrojo takes the mound for the Red Sox. Arrojo has come out of the bullpen to beat the Yanks twice earlier this year, but has converted to the starting pitching role since replacing Darren Oliver in the rotation.
El Duque is scheduled to start for the Yanks, and has been one of the Yanks most consistent starters, even though he has been in several trade rumors. Although he struggled in his last start, El Duque had two outstanding performances after coming off of injury. On June 28, El Duque pitched four shutout innings from the bullpen to earn the save versus the New York Mets in the subway series. In his next appearance, Hernandez was again excellent in his first start in two months, as he baffled the Blue Jays for six innings while striking out nine.
The series concludes with newly acquired Jeff Weaver getting the call for the Yanks, while John Burkett will start for the Sox. Weaver has struggled in his two starts since being traded to the Yanks from the Tigers, despite getting the win in both starts. In his debut, Weaver gave up two three run home runs to Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells, and in his second game in pinstripes, Weaver again gave up a long ball to Wells but still earned the win behind the Yankee run support. Burkett earned his ninth win of the season in his last start versus the Devil Rays, despite giving up three runs in the first inning.
If Boston manages to sweep the Yanks at Yankee Stadium, the two teams will be tied for first place in the American League East.
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