RED SOX (29-27) AT YANKEES (36-19)
7:05 p.m. ET; WPIX, MLBN, NESN, MLB.TV
While the Boston Red Sox own a winning record, there is a sizable gap between them and the New York Yankees in the American League East Division.
The Red Sox get their next chance to close the gap with the Yankees on Friday for a three-game series after the forecast of heavy rain at Yankee Stadium led to the postponement of a four-game series opener on Thursday. The postponed game will be part of a day-night doubleheader on Aug. 3.
J.A. Happ (4-3, 5.09 ERA) will start for New York against Boston’s Chris Sale (1-6, 4.19)
The Yankees won both meetings last month, roughing up Sale in an 8-0 win on April 16 and rallying late for a 5-3 victory the following night. The Yankees entered that series with nine losses in their first 15 games, but getting two wins over the Red Sox triggered a hot streak that has lifted New York into first place.
Since their 6-9 start, the Yankees are 30-10 in their last 40 games and hold a 7 1/2-game lead over third-place Boston and one game over second-place Tampa Bay.
The Yankees won their eighth straight series when they hit four homers in a 7-0 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon.
New York heads into Friday 13-3 in its last 16 games and has scored at least five runs in 10 its last 11 games after DJ LeMahieu, Luke Voit, Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres homered Wednesday.
The Yankees have held first place since May 19 and even if they are not constantly checking the standings, they are aware of what can be achieved this weekend.
“Obviously this is a big series for us to help our lead in first place and we’re going to do whatever we can,” Voit said. “It’s the best rivalry in baseball. So we’re so excited. We haven’t seen these guys in a while. So it’s going to be a lot of fun this weekend.”
Last season, Boston won the division by eight games en route to its fourth championship since the start of the 2004 season, but is off to a slow start in 2019. The Red Sox left New York with a 6-13 record and are 23-14 since.
“It doesn’t feel like we’re there yet,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We want it to be somewhere else of course record wise but I think the last month we’ve been playing consistent baseball.”
Boston reached the .500 mark on May 8, is 10-8 since then and enters Friday at 29-27.
“It’s an important series, we know that,” Cora said. “Like I said, yesterday, we just got to play better.”
The Red Sox are hoping to avoid a third straight loss after taking a 14-9 defeat to the Cleveland Indians Wednesday, a night after blowing a late lead in a 7-5 setback.
After getting short outings from starters Ryan Weber and David Price (due to a lengthy rain delay Tuesday), the Red Sox are hoping Sale can continue some recent improvement.
Although Sale owns a subpar record, he is pitching better of late. Sale is 1-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his last five starts and owns a 2.44 ERA in seven starts since allowing four runs on seven hits in five innings against the Yankees in a performance he described as “embarrassing.”
Sale last pitched on Friday in Houston when he allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss. Sale threw 89 pitches Friday after throwing at least 100 pitches in his previous five starts.
The left-hander is 6-5 with a 1.87 ERA in 18 career regular-season appearances (15 starts) against the Yankees. He also is 2-3 with a 2.36 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) at Yankee Stadium.
Happ is 3-0 with a 5.40 ERA in his last four starts.
Happ last pitched Saturday in Kansas City when he carried a shutout into the sixth and allowed three runs, four hits and struck out 10 in six innings.
The left-hander is 8-4 with a 3.05 ERA in 22 regular-season appearances (21 starts) against the Red Sox.
–Field Level Media