The Yankees start a three-game mid week series against the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night at 7:10 p.m at Fenway Park. In the four-game series against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium from April 10-13 the Yankees won three of the four games against their long time rivals.
Joe Girardi’s team will come into the series with momentum as they have won six of their last eight games. The one major setback is that it appears that starter Ivan Nova will have season ending Tommy John surgery based on elbow soreness that he had during the the fifth innings of the team’s 16-1 loss to Tampa. He will need Tommy John surgery as a result of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. The 11-8 record that the Yankees have is a game better than the surprising second place Toronto Blue Jays.
John Farrell’s team, on the other hand, will come into the series as a mediocre team that has been hurt by injuries to third baseman Will Middlebrooks and outfieleder Shane Victorino. Boston (9-11) split their four-game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles and lost all three games that the played against the Milwaukee Brewers from April 4-6. The Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros are the only teams in the AL with a worse record than the Red Sox so far.
In Tuesday’s game, Masahiro Tanaka will start his first game at the historic Fenway Park. His 2.05 ERA and 28:2 strikeout to walk ratio are both outstanding and he has pitched a combined 22 innings in his first three Major League starts. He is coming off a start where he shutout the Chicago Cubs for eight innings while striking out 10 and only walking one. His splitter, which keeps hitters off balance, has definitely lived up to expectations so far this season.
“I’m sure the fans will be heated up a bit and it should be a good experience going up on the mound that day,” Tanaka said, when asked about the atmosphere at Fenway.
Jon Lester, who has been the best starter so far for Boston, will get the start for the Red Sox. He has a 2.17 ERA this season and like Tanaka, his 29:4 strikeout to walk ratio is impressive. However, factors that could help the Yankees are that he has a 4.57 ERA in his last three seasons against New York and a 4.46 ERA at home but a much better 3.67 ERA on the road.
On Wednesday’s game, the 25-year-old Michael Pineda will start for the Yankees and he will be opposed by the veteran John Lackey. Pineda’s ability to command his fastball, slider and changeup has led to his 2-1 record and 1.00 ERA in three starts. Lackey has allowed six runs in each of his last two starts, which gives him an unimpressive 5.25 ERA.
For the series finale on Thursday, CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.19 ERA), who is coming off his best start of the season where he allowed just one run earned run in seven innings pitched against the Tampa Bay Rays, will get the start for the Yankees. He had a 6.48 ERA against the Red Sox from 2011 to 2013. Felix Doubront (4-4, 5.48 ERA) will get the start after allowing three runs in 6.2 innings in his start against the Yankees on April 13.
Two positive signs on the injury front for the Yankees are that first baseman Mark Teixeira returned from the disabled list on Sunday, and went 2-6, while closer David Robertson is scheduled to return from his 15-day DL in time for Tuesday’s game. This will help the bullpen as it will give it more depth and it will allow Girardi to find consistent roles for Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, Matt Thornton and David Phelps.