Series Preview: Red Sox @ Yankees

The first-place Boston Red Sox (30-19) come to the Bronx for a series against the Yankees (29-21) that is guaranteed to be full of drama. Not only are the Red Sox and Yankees within a game and a half of each other atop the AL East standings, not only do these teams have a history of being bitter rivals since that fateful day in 1920, but Monday night, former Boston Red Sock and current New York Yankee Roger Clemens will attempt to join the 300-win club against his former team.

Everything else seems secondary. Like the fact that Pedro Martinez, Boston's current ace, will be missing his second straight start against the Yanks and is on the disabled list. Or like the fact that these Yankees have been dismal of late. New York is coming off of a home sweep at the hands of the surging Toronto Blue Jays, something that has never happened before in a four-game set. During the series, the Yankees scored an average of 2.5 runs per game, while their pitching staff allowed an average of six runs per game. Not exactly a winning formula. Bernie Williams is out with a knee injury that will require surgery. Nick Johnson is still out with a hand fracture. The starting pitchers have been alarmingly average, something that the beat-up Yankees lineup can't afford. Lost in the shuffle of all the bad news and disappointing performances has been the work of the bullpen. During the series with Toronto, the Yankee bullpen – previously known as the weak link in the team – pitched 16 1/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs, good for a 1.10 ERA.

Boston hasn't exactly been taking advantage of the Yankees' current state of distress, though they are scoring runs. During their last series, against the Cleveland Indians, the Red Sox averaged 8.3 runs per game, and their staff allowed 3.6 rpg. Boston won that series with Cleveland 2-1 to extend their lead over the Yanks to 1 ½ games. Nomar Garciaparra has maintained his hot hitting, putting together a 25-game hitting streak, highest in the majors this season.

Pitching Probables

Monday: Tim Wakefield (4-2, 4.50) vs. Roger Clemens (6-2, 2.92)

The big story here is obvious. Roger Clemens will be attempting to win his 300th career victory, a feat accomplished by only 20 other players in the history of the game. Clemens has a decent shot at it too, provided he gets enough run support. The Rocket is responsible for the Yankees last victory, when he beat Boston 4-2 on May 21. Clemens was injured during that game when he was hit by a line drive off the bat of Bill Mueller, but the big Texan stayed in the game and notched the victory. Clemens' career numbers against the team he came up with: 7-2, 2.47 ERA, 115 strikeouts in 15 starts. Wakefield will be looking for some revenge against Clemens, who defeated him in that last start. The knuckleballer has good numbers against key Yankee hitters like Jorge Posada and Raul Mondesi, but Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano hammer him for batting averages of .343 and .385 respectively.

Tuesday: Bruce Chen (0-0, 3.68) vs. Andy Pettitte (4-5, 5.28)

Chen will be making his second start for the Red Sox, filling in for the injured Martinez. Chen's Boston debut came against the Yankees last week, and he surpassed expectations, pitching four strong innings in an emergency start. He allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk and struck out three.

Andy Pettitte has struggled this season, pitching poorly more often than not. His last start, against Toronto, was his worst of the season. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs. The southpaw hasn't faced Boston this season, but has experienced success against them in the past. In his career, Pettitte owns a 10-4 record against the Sox with a 2.57 ERA. A good start in an important series like this one could jump-start Pettitte.

Wednesday: Derek Lowe (4-3, 5.27) vs. Mike Mussina (7-3, 2.54)

After a top-quality season in 2002, Derek Lowe has crashed back to earth in a big way in 2003. The closer-turned-starter has been hot and cold this year, but when he's hot, he's unhittable. In his last start, Lowe pitched a complete game against the Indians, allowing just two runs to pick up his first win in over a month. Lowe has not faced the Yankees yet this year, but last year he was 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA. Robin Ventura hammers Lowe to the tune of a .429 batting average, but Lowe has held Derek Jeter to just a .231 BA.

The Moose, after starting the season 7-0 has looked more human of late. In his last three starts, Mussina is 0-3 with an ERA of 5.00. Career-wise, The Moose is 16-11 with a 3.09 ERA against the Red Sox.


OF Juan Rivera was called up when Bernie Williams was placed on the DL on May 23 and is 3-12 in his first three games … Boston's Bill Mueller is batting .381 this season, but doesn't have enough at bats to qualify for the league lead … Pedro Martinez was placed on the 15 day DL, but is expected to make his next start against Toronto on May 31.

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