BOSTON RED SOX (69-92)
at NEW YORK YANKEES (94-67)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -330, Boston +265, Total: 9
After a thrilling 12-inning victory on Tuesday, the Yankees look to close the regular season by clinching an AL East title and sweeping the rival Red Sox for good measure.
Raul Ibanez hit a pinch-hit, game-tying homer in the ninth and a weakly-hit, seeing-eye single in the 12th inning to lead New York back from a 3-1 deficit to a 4-3 victory and keep the Yankees one game in front of Baltimore (which beat Tampa Bay 1-0) for the division lead. On Wednesday, New York is once again heavily favored in a lopsided matchup of Japanese-born pitchers, Hiroki Kuroda (2.73 home ERA) and Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka for Boston, who has been blasted in his past three starts (13.04 ERA and 2.28 WHIP). Although Kuroda is clearly the better option, he has not pitched well down the stretch, throwing just one quality start in his past six starts and carrying a 5.02 ERA. And although Matsuzaka has been terrible in 2012, his past two outings versus the Yanks were both pretty good, as he allowed just two runs in each start with 13 K’s and just seven hits allowed in these 13 innings. And although the Red Sox are in the midst of a terrible slump, losing 11 of their past 12 games, this is team is 37-22 ATS (63%) in road games revenging 4+ straight losses versus an opponent over a two-year stretch since 1997. With such a ridiculous money line, take longshot BOSTON to finish the season with a victory.
This rare four-star FoxSheets trend also favors the Red Sox:
Play On - All underdogs with a money line of +150 or more (BOSTON) - stranding 6.9 or less runners on base per game on the season, after scoring 4 runs or less 6 straight games. (34-24 over the last 5 seasons.) (58.6%, +37.8 units. Rating = 4*).
Matsuzaka knows this will likely be his final start in a Red Sox uniform, a team he cost $103.1 million to sign six years ago. Opponents are batting .400 off him in September, and he is winless on the road this year with an atrocious 10.89 ERA and 2.11 WHIP in five away starts. However, the Red Sox are somehow 4-6 when he takes the mound this year. Matsuzaka is 3-3 all-time versus the Yankees, but has a 5.52 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in these 10 starts. Boston figures to use a lot of its relievers again on Wednesday. The Red Sox bullpen has been solid on the road this year, going 10-8 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 209 strikeouts.
Kuroda (15-11, 3.34 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) has a 2.73 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 18 home starts this year, leading his team to an 11-7 record in these games. But in his past two outings at Yankee Stadium, the right-hander has allowed nine runs (8 ER) on 11 hits in just 11.2 innings. Kuroda has faced the Red Sox four times this season, with three straight quality starts against them, sporting a 2.42 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. Although he averages 6.6 innings per start this season, that number has dropped to 5.2 IP per start over the past three contests. However, New York’s bullpen is perfectly capable of nailing down the victory, considering it is 24-17 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 51 saves in 64 chances (80%) this year.