Tagged: Boston

Five homers and solid pitching by the bullpen helped the Yankees defeat the Red Sox

Brian McCann at his press conference at Yankee Stadium in December.

Brian McCann at his press conference at Yankee Stadium in December.

The Yankees evened up their record at 6-6 after Saturday afternoon’s 7-4 win over the Boston Red Sox. This was their second win in three games against Boston.

Hiroki Kuroda picked up his second win of the season after allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings. He would have only been charged with two earned runs but Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava scored on Mike Carp’s single after Matt Thornton came into the game.

Before being taken out of the game, Kuroda had five strikeouts and three walks and allowed a two-run homer to A.J. Pierzynski in the second. It wasn’t his strongest game, but Kuroda was able to impressively get out of trouble in the first, fourth and fifth innings.

The main takeaway from this game was that the offense truly came to life as all seven of their runs were scored via five homers. The Yankees lived up to their Bronx Bombers nickname. Their five homers were nearly as many as they had hit in their previous 11 games combined (seven homers). They had seven before today, but the Yankees now have hit a total of 12 homers.

They were led by Brian McCann, who smashed his first two homers as a Yankee. Carlos Beltran’s second homer of the season, in the first inning, drove in Jacoby Ellsbury. Alfonso Soriano, who now has nine hits in his last 22 at-bats, hit his second homer in the last two games and third of the season. To close out the team’s scoring, Kelly Johnson, who is playing first for the first time in his career as a result of Mark Teixeira’s injury, hit his third homer of the season in the eighth inning. McCann and Soriano hit back-to-back homers in the fourth off of Red Sox starter John Lackey.

Except for Thornton, who allowed Kuroda’s inherited runners to score, the bullpen’s execution was flawless. Dellin Betances pitched to one batter but was not credited with recording an out as a result of McCann throwing out Carp, who was trying to steal second. Adam Warren, who has been pitching with better command and increased velocity out of the bullpen than he did as a starter, and Shawn Kelley combined for two perfect innings. Kelley rebounded well from getting the loss against the Orioles on Wednesday, after allowing two runs, to retire the side in order on 14 pitches.

David Robertson, should be able to return from the disabled list on April 22, which is the day he is eligible to return, but their bullpen should be in good enough shape until then based on the overall effectiveness of Kelley, Warren and Betances.

Except for his shaky outing on Wednesday, Kelley has only allowed one hit in five other appearances. The New York native Betances, who was previously a top starting pitching prospect before flaming out and switching to the bullpen, has struck out eight batters while allowing one hit and zero runs in 4.1 innings. Warren is on a real hot streak as he has allowed zero runs and only two hits in five innings this season (six appearances), and he ended last season not allowing a run in his last 6.2 innings.

The effectiveness of those three relievers could potentially make the bullpen an imposing one after the return of Robertson because they can that fit into defined ninth, eighth and seventh innings roles. Another positive sign is that based on the lineup that the Yankees have, combined with the eventual return of Teixeira, the Yankees should see many more games the rest of the season like Saturday’s with multiple homers than ones with no homers like earlier in the season.

Ivan Nova will get the start for the Yankees on Sunday night and the left-hander Felix Doubront will start for Boston. They both struggled in the previous start. Doubront allowed five runs in 2.2 innings pitched and Nova allowed seven runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Nova will look to regain his form from July, August and September of last season when he located his pitches and ERAs of 2.03, 2.08 and 3.90.

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Preview of Yankees vs. Red Sox

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova

After sweeping the Chicago White Sox, who are in last place in the American League Central, the Yankees will now conclude their 10-game home stand with a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox. It is always a big series when they play their rivals to the north, but this series will have even more significance because they are only 2.5 games out of the wild-card.

The Red Sox have won five out of their past six games. They have virtually looked up the division (the Yankees have a chance since they play them seven more times) and are now playing for home field advantage in the playoffs. Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez on Sunday Night Baseball in the last game that the two teams played and there has been some talk of possible retaliation by the Yankees. The best retaliation that the Bronx Bombers could show at this point is to win three our four games in this series.

Since the Yankees last played the Red Sox they have gone 11-5. It is possible that the game that they came back to win after A-Rod was intentionally hit in the second inning ignited the team but it is also likely that the health of Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter and continued dominance of Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano has spurred the much needed hot streak.

With their game tonight, the Yankees start a streak of 14 games against division rivals. They will play the Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays during these crucial games. A pitcher that will be key during this stretch is Ivan Nova. That Yankees would not be where they are right now without him. Has a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts since returning from the minors on June 23. The command of his curveball and fastball have been much improved. He will start tonight against the Red Sox.

Jake Peavy, who has never defeated the Yankees in his career, will pitch for the Red Sox tonight. He has pitched very well since coming to Boston from the White Sox in the beginning of August.

After a 4-0 record in August, Nova was named the American League pitcher of the month. August also included his first complete-game shutout of his career.

Many offensive players have been playing well of late for the Yankees. Robinson Cano is four for his last eight and going back further has a .367 batting average since August 14. He has driven in 18 runs in the past 20 games. Brett Gardner, who has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup, has a .360 average over the past week with five doubles. Eduardo Nunez, who is not playing tonight, has an outstanding .444 average over the last seven days.

Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA), who has pitched much better recently, will matchup against Felix Doubront, (10-6, 3.89 ERA) on Friday. David Huff (2-0, 3.32 ERA), who has pitched very well out of the bullpen, will make his first start for the Yankees on Saturday, replacing Phil Hughes. For Boston, John Lackey (8-12, 3.22 ERA) will get the start on Saturday. In the series finale, on Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda, who has been the team’s ace this season, will matchup against Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88 ERA).

If the Yankees can win three out of four games it would put them in great position going into their final 19 games of the season.

The schedule will help the #Yankees win the AL East

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After the second walk-off win in a row, against the Oakland Athletics, for the Yankees, they will be able to look ahead at the schedule to know that they should be able to hang and win the AL East. After tomorrow’s matinee game against the second place A’s, their remaining seven games are against the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins, who are a combined 40.5 games out of first place.

The Yankees have now won seven games in a row and their current winning streak has been highlighted by late game heroics by Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin. Ibanez, who was only 1-19 before today’s marathon game, produced a much needed 3-4 performance, with two homers and three RBI. On Friday night, Russell Martin, who has been somewhat of a feast or famine player recently, hit the game winner in the 10th after failing to get on base in his previous three at bats.

Friday’s game against Oakland would not have needed a Martin long ball in extra innings if it were not for Rafael Soriano wasting a dominating outing by ace CC Sebathia. After being somewhat inconsistent recently, Sebathia’s 11 strikeout, zero earned run performance is one that Yankee fans know he is capable of.

Soriano has been a very reliable replacement for the Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, since it was only his fourth blow save, while his 42 saves and 2.10 ERA make up for allowing the game to go into extra frames.

The good news is that the Yankees will not have to face a team like the Athletics, who have been playing above their talent level, and have been one of the best surprise stories of baseball, for the rest of the season. The Blue Jays and Twins are both not playing for anything while being out of the playoff race for most of the season. The Yankees will need to capitalize on these inferior opponents.

The Yankees currently own a one game lead over the surging Baltimore Orioles. The Bronx Bombers are currently clicking on all cylinders after going 9-1 in their last 10 games while the O’s, led by Buck Showalter, have won eight of their last 10 contests.

The Yankees should not accept anything less than winning six of their last eight games. I could see them losing the game to the A’s on Sunday, who are currently tied with the O’s for the Wild Card, and then also losing a game to their division foe, the Blue Jays.

If I had to pick a game for them to lose it would be when Ricky Romero is pitching. Romero, who has been Toronto’s ace the past few years, has struggled in 2012, but has a history of pitching well against the Yankees. If my prediction is accurate the Yankees would end the season with a 94-65 record.

The Orioles also end the season against teams that are basically playing out the string. They have four games left against the Red Sox and three against the Blue Jays. I can see the Orioles winning six of their last eight games. I would have left the number at five, but I could see the Red Sox resting their starters to try and help the Orioles win the division instead of the Yankees.

The Yankees will need to continue to have unsung and under-performing players step up in their remaining games to help them come away with six or more wins. Those six wins would give the Yankees a 94-65 record, and if the Orioles also win six more games, the Yanks would win the AL East by one game.

Jesus makes his Yankees debut, but the series win over Boston was highlighted by Burnett and Martin

There were many positives during this game, however, the one that stands out is that A.J. Burnett actually pitched the Yankees to victory, only allowing two runs.

I still think he should be taken out of the rotation, as he allowed 16 runs in two starts before this one, and his ERA is still 5.25, but now Girardi at least as a legitimate decision to make after Phil Hughes struggled so much in his last start.

Not many had confidence in Burnett coming into this game, but something was able to click in his brain allowing him to pitch like he was still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.  What he was a starter for the Blue Jays he was consistently effective (2.56 ERA in eight starts) instead of consistently ineffective in eight starts before this one for the Yankees (8.71 ERA and zero wins).

Jon Lester had struggled in his three previous starts against the Yankees this season, but he will likely be somewhere in the top 10 in the CY Young with his 3.09 ERA, so it is not surprising that he only gave up one run in five innings.

Lester likely would have been able to pitch deeper into the contest if it was not for his very eventful top of the first.

David Ortiz hit a hard single to right, in the second inning, which gave him a 15 game hitting streak.

In the top of the third Andruw Jones missed a double by inches as his towering line drive just missed hitting the foul line on the Green Monster.  However, unfortunately he would go on to strike out looking on a 2-2 count.

Jones would go 0-1 with three walks but more importantly he has hit more like the hitter he was with the Braves for much of the second half of the season because of an advice from a somewhat unlikely source.  Jones would receive a call during the All-Star break from his mother who said that she didn’t like the way he was setting his legs in his batting stance.

Amazingly, during what was Burnett’s best start since June 29th, he only gave up Dustin Pedroia’s two run blast in the bottom of the fourth.  This would score MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez, and would prove that Burnett is actually capable of adjusting to adversity.

With one out in the fifth inning Robinson Cano hit a long double into the triangle in center-field on Lester’s 100th pitch.  That double was Cano’s 39th of the season. Swisher bunted with one out which is very puzzling because he is one of the better RBI men on the team. They were down by a run and he could have driven in Cano with a single.

Jesus Montero would bat in top of the fifth with a chance to be the savior, but the nerves of playing in his first big league game and facing Lester got to him as he grounded out to shortstop.

Mark Teixiera got hit right on the knee to load the bases after Derek Jeter singled off of the Green Monster and Curtis Granderson walked.  At least that was not a fastball or he would have been badly hurt.  However, the Yankees failed again with men on base as Cano grounded out to third.

In the sixth inning, with david Ortiz batting, Burnett threw a pitch with a 3-2 count that appeared to be strike three on the outside corner but the umpire called it a ball.  Joe Girardi made the correct decision taking him out of the game at that point.  Burnett had allowed a single to Pedroia before that walk, and it was smart not to take any risks with AJ pitching.

To end the sixth inning Curtis Granderson made an outstanding diving catch to prevent two runs from scoring.  This also kept Burnett’s line at two runs, which is impressive.

One of the Yankees best prospects, Jesus Montero, who is known for his hitting, left a total of six runners on base in his first three at bats.  He would not do any damage in his fourth at bat but at least he was able to get himself to first via getting hit on his jersey.

With runners on first and second, Russell Martin decided to come through in the clutch, after so many had not earlier in the game.  Chris Dickerson, who had pinch run and Montero, scored giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.  Eric Chavez would hit a single to send Martin home, while would set the Yankees up for victory as their dominating bullpen options were on deck.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mariano Rivera surprisingly walked two hitters and give up a single before Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate.  He just wanted to make the game bottom of the ninth interesting as   Gonzalez would be called out on a checked swing to give the Yankees the victory and with the win they are now tied in the loss column with Boston.

The Yankees stranded nine base runners in the first five innings which would be a theme that luckily did not cost them the win.  They would go on to leave 13 men on base and would leave runners in scoring position with two outs six times, with Montero being the culprit three times in his debut.  On the other hand, Boston would be equally hurt by leaving 10 runners on base.

Another major reason that the Yankees got the upper hand in this game was that their bullpen vastly outperformed the Red Sox’ relievers.

Former Yankee pitcher Alfred Aceves, who can do a little of everything (and who choose number 91 after Dennis Rodman) gave up Martin’s double and in the process surrendering his teams lead.  Daniel Bard would allow the Yankees to have a two-run cushion as the Yankees best three relievers were set to enter the game.  Eric Chavez would close out the scoring off of Daniel Bard, with an RBI single, and he has improved his average 21 points since August 28 (this drastic increase is partly because he is a part-time player).

However, for the Yankees, their relievers only gave up one hit in 3.2 innings.  Corey Wade (2.17), who would get the team out of the fifth inning and pick up the win, was signed on June 13th and has proven to be one of the better mid-season, under the radar, acquisitions by GM Brian Cashman.

The impressive back of the bullpen trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera imposed their will like normal, but they just had to work around four walks between them.

Rivera got Gonzalez out on his patented cutter which has to be one of the best single pitches of all-time.  The best closer in baseball history will soon be official as he is now five saves away from 600 and seven away from Trevor Hoffman’s all-time saves record. He could accomplish this feat in late September.

They now begin six game home-stand against division foes Toronto and Baltimore (with one on the road because of Hurricane Irene) who are in fourth and fifth place, respectively.  Boston will now face Texas and Toronto in their next six games as the neck-and-neck division race is bound to continue until the last few days of September.

Yankees winning streak is halted at three, they need a victory over Lester to win the series

The Yankees were able to score five runs off of Josh Beckett, four of them earned, which should have been enough to win but Phil Hughes would allow a total of six runs during the Yankees 9-5 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Hughes pitched well through the first four innings only allowing two runs, but that was not good enough as he turned in his third underwhelming start since coming off the disabled list.  He has had five starts where he allowed two runs or less but he still needs to find that consistency that he had the first-half of last season.  Having three starts where he has allowed more than five runs is not going to cut it.

Even though Hughes has been somewhat feast or famine since coming off the disabled list, he should still be the one to stay in the rotation over A.J. Burnett.  I hope for the best, but I don’t think it is very likely that Burnett allows four runs or less against the Red Sox tonight.  The one major factor in Burnett’s favor is his mammoth contract but Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi need to realize that it is more important that the Yankees are able to count on their starting pitcher.

Burnett has allowed 16 runs in his last two starts and part of the reason that he was signed before the 2009 season was because he had dominated the Red Sox while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.  In eight starts with the Blue Jays he had five wins and 2.56 ERA, but in eight starts for the Yankees against Boston he has zero wins and an 8.71 ERA.  Even if he somehow allows three runs his should be his last start of the season.

Hughes gives the Yankees a realistic chance of hurling in a dominating start but the same can’t really said for Burnett at this point.  It might make sense to call up Dellin Beances, Manny Banuelos or Adam Warren to see how they do during a spot start, if Hughes does not pitch a quality start when he toes the rubber next.

Putting one of these three top pitchers from AAA Scranton in the middle of a playoff race might be a little risky but it is worth a shot since they have so much potential.  If Hughes does indeed falter again, the Yankees would have no better option besides taking rookie Hector Noesi out of his long-relief role and giving him a start.

Based on how he has performed this season in the Bronx and for Scranton it is likely that Noesi would pitch well if given a chance to start, but he has been a valuable asset in his current bullpen role.  However, if Hughes is kept in the rotation like he should be, and he does not allow three runs or less in his next start something has to be done.

Derek Jeter was the offensive “star” for the Yankees as he was the only player with more than one hit, driving in Eduardo Nunez for the first run of the game in the top of the third, and also adding another single later in the game.

During the fifth inning in Tuesday’s game Francisco Cervelli hit a solo home run, but when he led off the fifth inning during Wednesday’s game he was only able to hit a fly ball to Crawford.

Hughes gave up Ortiz’s 28th homer with two outs in the fifth inning to deep center field to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.  Ortiz has been on fire recently bringing a 10 game hitting streak into Thursday’s game, with six multiple hit games and 11 RBI during that time period.

After striking out in his first two at bats against Beckett, Robinson Cano would hit a double to the Green Monster between the centerfielder and leftfielder, to score Mark Teixiera.  Chavez continued his scorching hitting as he wound up on third after a double (and an error), where Cano and Nick Swisher scored, after hitting a ball into the left corner, which would carom around preventing rookie Josh Reddick from fielding it cleanly.

At the end of the top of the sixth the Yankees edged the Red Sox 5-4 but it was all downhill from there.  Hughes would allow two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, off a double by long time Boston catcher Jason Varitek and Varitek’s run would be charged to him as reliever Boone Logan gave up a homer to left by MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury.

Luis Ayala, who had previously proved to have been a solid under the radar pickup by Cashman, gave up a two-run homer to Varitek in the eighth, but those runs would prove to be meaningless towards the outcome of the game.

The offense could not manage even a hit or a walk off of Beckett in the seventh, Daniel Bard in the eighth or closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.  Mark Teixiera did not show up in this game as he was 0-3 while leaving runners in scoring position with two outs twice.

In the top of the eighth, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher hit balls hard that appeared to be singles, but Marco Scutarto and Dustin Pedroia, respectively, fielded the short hops cleanly to get them out.

Gardner is now 6-54 as he could not reach base to keep the game alive with two outs in the ninth inning.  Jonathan Papelbon simply overpowered and outmatched him on three pitches.

Derek Jeter, who has been on a tear since the beginning of August, passed Craig Biggio with his 3,061st career hit.

According to Kim Jones, Jesus Montero will likely start at Designated Hitter in Thursday’s series finale since they are facing Jon Lester and Montero excels against southpaws.  It will help if he could be the everyday DH against lefties because they have not been getting consistent production out of that spot, but it is more important that they get reliable production from their starters for the rest of the season, especially the four and five spots.

Jon Lester will be pitching for the Red Sox tonight.  He has a 14-6 record with a 3.09 ERA, having allowed one run in each of his past three starts.  However, in three starts against the Yankees this season, the Bronx Bombers has solved him as they scored 10 runs in 18 innings (5.00 ERA).

His story is impressive because he was diagnosed with Lymphoma on August 31st, 2006, but he was able to recover fully as evidenced by winning the final game of the 2007 World Series.

Preview of the series against Boston, Yankees need to win the first game

The Yankees play the first of three games against the Red Sox in Boston tonight.  It will be crucial that the Yankees improve upon their dreadful 2-10 record against their rivals to the north, especially since they trail them by 1.5 games in the standings.

Boston comes into this series having won four out in their past two series against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were out of the lineup last night with minor injuries, but tonight against the Red Sox only Jeter will make his return.  Somewhat surprisingly, with Jeter and Rodriguez out of the lineup, the Yankees are 7-0 this season.  When Rodriguez is out of the lineup and Jeter is playing, a bigger sample size because of AROD’s surgery, the team has a 24-17 record.

This proves how deep their lineup is and that their role players are able to step up like Nick Swisher, who has been on a home run binge recently with six out of his last eight hits being sent out of the park.

In order for the Yankees to continue their modest two-game winning streak, CC Sebathia, will have to pitch like he has against everybody else in the contest tonight.  He has not performed anything like the CY Young candidate that he is against the Red Sox this season.

Sebathia has 199 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA on the season, but in his last start against the Red Sox he gave up seven runs in six innings.  In his four starts against the Yankees’ bitter rivals during this campaign he has a 7.20 ERA, having allowed 33 hits in 25 innings.  This will need to improve as he is the ace and will be relied upon to defeat the Red Sox in the playoffs as well.

John Lackey will be taking the hill for the Red Sox as his execution has been severely lacking this season compared to when he pitched for the Angels.  Lackey has a 12-9 record, which is not that bad, but he sports an ERA of 5.98.  The Yankees bats should be happy to see that number coming into the game.

Two more factors going against Lackey in this game are that in his career versus the Bronx Bombers, 21 starts, he has a 4.67 ERA, and he pitches worse at home (6.16 ERA) than he does on the road (5.75 ERA) even though neither are numbers to write home about.

On Wednesday, Phil Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees while Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA) will take the hill.  Hughes’ numbers are not nearly as underwhelming since coming off the disabled list as he has allowed two runs or less in five of his seven starts.  However, in those other two games he allowed an alarming 13 runs combined.  If Hughes can allow three runs the Yankees will be competitive against Beckett.

In the series finale, on Thursday, the enigma that is A.J. Burnett (9-11, 5.31 ERA) will take on Boston’s second best pitcher, left Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA).  Burnett has allowed an alarming 16 runs in his last two starts and deserves to be demoted.  We will have to see as a decision should be coming soon.

It will be crucial that the three starters for the Yankees slow down Adrian Gonzalez (.345 and 103 RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (23 homers, 95 runs and 35 steals) who are both having unbelievable seasons.

MVP candidate Curtis Granderson is not hitting well this season against the Red Sox but he does have a solid .318 average against Lackey, for his career.  Cano is hitting .289 during his career against Lackey but is also struggling against the Red Sox this season.  Brett Gardner continues the same pattern as Cano and Granderson.

They Yankees need to at least win this game since most of the team has impressive numbers against Lackey.  Hopefully they can steal one of the others against Beckett or Lester.  They will also need future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, to not blow a save during this series like he has had somewhat of a propensity of doing in the past.

Yankees split four game set in Baltimore, before their clash with the Red Sox

The Yankees defeated the Orioles, 3-2, behind timely hitting and effective pitching all around by Freddy Garcia as well as the bullpen.  This win gave them a split of the interrupted four-game series against the last place Orioles, in Baltimore.

Freddy Garcia only allowed four base runners during his very solid first start after returning from his short stint on the disabled list.  The only run that he allowed was a homer to the free swinging Mark Reynolds, who can usually be counted on hitting a ball out of the park or striking out.

Garcia has a stellar 3.09 ERA, while continuing his pre disabled list ownership of the American League with his sixth straight start allowing three runs or less.  More impressively, in four of those starts he has allowed one run or less.

Down the stretch their will be a three-way battle between Garcia, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes for the number three spot in the Yankees playoff rotation.  As of now, Garcia should get the edge because he has been battle tested, pitching in many more big games during his career than Nova or Hughes.  Nobody would have thought that Bartolo Colon and Garcia could have been the two and three starters for the Yankes, in the playoffs, at the beginning of the season.

Mark Teixiera got the scoring started in the first hitting a double to drive in Curtis Granderson, for his 100th RBI, which is his sixth season driving in 100 runs or more.  Teixiera continued his recent surge at the plate as he is 6-12 in his last three games

In the fourth inning, Nick Swisher would give the Yankees all the scoring they would need off of Alfred Simon as his homer to deep right drove in Robinson Cano. Six of Swisher’s last eight hits have been home runs which is unbelievable.  He now has a .267 average, with 21 homers and 77 RBI’s, which is a total reversal of fortune from how he was hitting earlier in the season.

The normally perfect David Robertson, who had not surrendered a run in his last 13 appearances, actually gave up a home run to J.J. Hardy, to deep left center, to make the game interesting.  However Robertson, also known as Houdini, would buckle down afterwards, striking out two in the inning while getting the hold.

Mariano Rivera has more saves against the Orioles than against any other team.  That is not all that surprising since they are in the AL East and have struggled for much of Rivera’s career.

He entered the game with a 3-2 lead facing Vladimir Guerrero.  Rivera would tip the ball with his glove, so that Cano could field it near second and make a strong throw to Teixiera at first.  He would go on to retire the side in order like he has so many times during his Hall of Fame career.

Rivera has now been perfect in his last five innings, not allowing a walk or hit during those games.  The last time he faltered was during three games against the Angels and Red Sox.  The Yankees will now be facing the Red Sox for three games in Boston, so hopefully Rivera can start as well as CC Sebathia can dominate the Red Sox.

They now trail the Red Sox by 1.5 games and are 2-10 in the season series.  Sebathia, (17-7, 2.99 ERA) the Yankees ace, has had a CY Young caliber season and would be a lock for the award over Justin Verlander if it was not for his struggles against Boston.

During four starts this season against the Red Sox, he has a sky-high 7.20 ERA, with a 1.72 WHIP and 10 walks in 25 innings.  He will pitch tonight, against John Lackey, (5.98 ERA) who lacks a decent ERA.  Hopefully Sebathia will be able to execute his pitches and pitch well tonight like he has against the rest of the AL East.  He has been a workhorse for the team, throwing at least seven innings in his last 14 starts, receiving the win in nine of those decisions.

The Red Sox and Yankees will clash three more times after this three game set in Boston, and these six games will go a long way towards deciding who gets to win the division and thus face the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Yankees were again without the duo of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez but were still able to win the last two games without them.  There is a chance that both will play during the  series in Boston.

Rivera is now only eight saves away (592) from Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list so he should be able to pass him before the end of the season.