NEW YORK YANKEES (12-8)
at BOSTON RED SOX (9-12)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -115, New York +105, Total: 8.5
The Yankees look to continue their dominance over the Red Sox this season as they meet for game two of their three-game series on Wednesday night.
New York's big 9-3 blowout of Boston on Tuesday gives it four wins in the first five meetings between these bitter rivals. The Yanks got to starter Jon Lester early and often, as former Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a triple and was driven in by Derek Jeter in the very next at-bat. Ellsbury went 2-for-5 with two runs and 2 RBI in his return to Fenway, while his new team combined to go 7-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Boston did have nine hits in the game, including back-to-back home runs by David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, but was just 1-for-7 with RISP, and was baffled for the most part by Masahiro Tanaka’s splitter. With the loss, the Red Sox are now 1-6 in the first game of a series this year and have been outscored 25-14 by New York this season. Since the start of 2012, the Yankees have a 23-19 edge in this series while going 11-8 at Fenway Park. Attempting to keep his and New York’s strong 2014 campaign going will be RHP Michael Pineda (2-1, 1.00 ERA) while Boston will be sending veteran RHP John Lackey (2-2, 5.25 ERA) to the mound. Tuesday’s road win brought the Bombers record away from home to 6-5 this year while the Red Sox are a poor 4-7 in front of their passionate fans. Facing another right-hander should worry Boston, as it has gone just 4-11 this year when facing righty starters, but is 88-50 (.638) as a favorite of -110 or better since the start of last season.
Michael Pineda did not play in the majors for the Yankees in his first two years with the club after what was considered a swap of two can’t-miss prospects back in 2012 (Jesus Montero the other one), but has come back to provide New York with a reliable starter in the club's rotation. He has been on a pitch count this year, as the team wants to make sure he remains healthy after missing so much time and has averaged just 88.7 pitches per game over his first three starts. Pineda’s first two career starts against Boston have been polar opposites. As a member of the Mariners back in 2011, he allowed seven runs on eight hits in a 12-8 loss at Fenway, but just two weeks ago on April 10 at home, Pineda won a 4-1 decision by throwing six strong innings and giving up just four hits (1 HR) and two walks while striking out seven. Overall, players on Boston’s current roster are a combined 7-for-35 (.200) versus Pineda with nine strikeouts and the only home run coming off the bat of OF Daniel Nava, who is hitting .149 this season. The middle of the lineup will still be tough for Pineda though, as he will need to face Ortiz and Napoli who have combined for nine home runs and 24 RBI so far in 2014. The Yankees’ bullpen has struggled this season, going 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA and 1.39 WHIP while saving 8-of-10 games. The numbers have been even worse on the road (5.46 ERA, 1.47 WHIP). David Robertson (0.00 ERA, 2 saves) was activated from the DL on Tuesday and will slip back into the closer’s role, as he was perfect in two save chances before injuring his groin.
John Lackey seemed to revive his career last season as he helped the Red Sox win the World Series, but has opened this season with inconsistent pitching, including 20 hits and 12 runs surrendered over his past two starts (11 IP). He has now allowed five homers over his first four outings, including 4 HR allowed to New York on April 12 during a 7-4 defeat. Overall, Lackey has gone 10-12 (17-15 team record) with a 4.81 ERA and 1.51 WHIP against the Yankees in his career while giving up 17 runs over 17.2 innings on the mound in his last three starts against them. Two newcomers for New York, OF Carlos Beltran (1 HR) and C Brian McCann (2 HR), took Lackey deep the last time they faced him and the club is happy to have 1B Mark Teixeira back healthy, as he has gone 21-for-67 (.313, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 12 K’s) in this matchup. Not everyone has done well against the veteran righty though, most notably OF Alfonso Soriano, who is just 8-for-41 (.195) with 9 K’s against Lackey, but he did hit a home run the last time they faced each other. Per usual, Boston’s bullpen has been tremendous this season, going 4-3 with a 2.20 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and earning a save in 6-of-7 chances. Closer Koji Uehara (0.00 ERA, 4 saves) has dominated hitters, pitching seven scoreless innings while being perfect in his four save opportunities with 11 strikeouts and just one walk.