BOSTON RED SOX (5-7)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (6-6)
First pitch: Sunday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -105, New York -105, Total: 9
The Red Sox and Yankees wrap up a four-game set on Sunday night in the Bronx.
Boston dropped to the bottom of the AL East after a loss in the opening game of this series and has scored just 3.6 runs per game through Thursday’s contest. The Red Sox have relied on two of their newer players early on this season as rookies OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.364, 5 RBI) and SS Xander Bogaerts (.314) have been hitting very well. The worry the Yankees have had over the past few seasons was pitching depth, but so far their starters have looked great, and it has been their offense that has hit a wall. After their 4-1 victory against Boston on Thursday, they are averaging just 3.7 runs per game on the season, while getting lightning-in-a-bottle from 3B Yangervis Solarte (.387, 7 RBI, 6 doubles). Meanwhile, 1B Kelly Johnson leads the team with two home runs. Two youngsters will face-off in Sunday's finale, as 26-year old LHP Felix Doubront (1-1, 9.00 ERA) and 27-year old RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 8.68 ERA) both attempt to bounce back from very poor starts in their last outings. With Thursday’s loss, Boston has now gone 30-26 in this matchup since the beginning of the 2011 season and was even better last year, going 13-6 against their arch nemesis.
Felix Doubront has done well enough to stay in the Red Sox rotation for his third straight year now, but will need to show more improvement if he plans on staying there. His strikeout rate dropped from 9.3 K/9 in 2012 to 7.7 K/9 in 2013, and he has started this season with six strikeouts in eight innings. He could not put it together in his last start, lasting just 2.2 innings while giving up six hits and five runs and issuing more walks (3) than strikeouts (2). Doubront has pitched in 12 career games (8 starts) against the Yankees, putting together a 3-2 record with a 4.17 ERA (1.37 WHIP) and allowing eight home runs in 49.2 innings. OF Alfonso Soriano has only five at-bats against Doubront, but has three hits and two home runs (6 RBI) against him, while 1B Kelly Johnson (4-for-13) has also done well. Meanwhile, SS Derek Jeter (2-for-14) and OF Brett Gardner (2-for-12) have not been able to get to him just yet. Coming into this four-game series, the Red Sox bullpen had a 3.34 ERA (1.28 WHIP) while not allowing a run on the road. Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA, 2 saves) has continued to dominate opposing teams’ hitters and has a career 2.42 ERA (0.81 WHIP) while giving up three home runs over 26 career innings facing the Bronx Bombers.
Ivan Nova impressed last year as he fooled opposing hitters with his knee-buckling curveball, but could not keep the pitch down in his last start, allowing a whopping seven runs on 10 hits in just 3.2 innings against the Orioles. He has really had trouble against Boston in eight career games (7 starts), posting a 2-3 record, 5.50 ERA (1.70 WHIP) and 6.9 K/9. Nova has gotten through just four frames in each of his past two starts against the Red Sox, allowing a total of eight runs (7 ER) on 11 hits while the Yankees have lost both contests. DH David Ortiz (6-for-16, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and OF Daniel Nava (4-for-10, 2 doubles) have not been fooled when facing Nova, while rookies Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts have combined to face him only three times, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. The biggest weak spot on New York’s roster has been its bullpen, and coming into this series they have compiled a 4.81 ERA (1.40 WHIP) while being perfect in three save opportunities. Shawn Kelley (0-1, 4.15 ERA, 1 save) has been pushed into the role as closer with David Robertson (groin) hitting the DL, but David Phelps (0-0, 6.00 ERA, 1 save) earned the save in Thursday's victory with 2.1 perfect innings of relief.