The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees renew one of the greatest rivalries in sports this afternoon, but the focus will be on the ballpark, as Fenway Park celebrates its 100th anniversary.
"It's going to be fun," Boston's Dustin Pedroia said. "This ballpark's been around 100 years, it's going to be an awesome time, it's going to be a great game and I'm sure it's going to be great for the city, fans and everybody."
Today's matchup is the same as the one that christened the stadium 100 years ago to the day, as Tris Speaker's 11th inning single carried the Red Sox that afternoon to a win over the Yankees, who were then known as the Highlanders.
Both teams will wear replicas of the uniforms they wore in the inaugural game.
"To think that this building from today -- it's unique, and I think it's unique in all of sports what's happening right now," manager Bobby Valentine said Thursday in his clubhouse office. "And it's great to be a part of it."
No other major league park has existed for 100 years.
"Obviously, it's history," Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I don't think any [other] ballpark's ever going to be able to do something like that. To be a part of that is awesome."
All-time names including Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk, Mike Lowell, former manager Terry Francona and others will be on hand to mark the centennial anniversary.
Francona, of course, will be making his first appearance at the ballpark since he and the team parted ways following last season's collapse. However, former general manger Theo Epstein will not be on hand.
"I think it's great," Pedroia added. "I'm excited to see him. I'm sure everybody else is. I'm sure the fans will enjoy it. He's a huge part of this organization."
The Red Sox enter tonight's tilt riding a three-game losing streak after a two-game sweep at the hands of the red-hot Texas Rangers.
One player who could be getting on track, though, is Kevin Youkilis, who homered in Wednesday's 6-3 loss and is 5-for-18 in his last five games after going 2-for-20 in his first five.
"We didn't pull it off in the end. We had some good at-bats," said Youkilis, who was criticized last weekend by Valentine. "It's nice to hit a home run, but when you don't win the ballgame, it really doesn't matter."
Trying to get the Red Sox right tonight will be righty Clay Buchholz, who is 1-0, but has allowed 12 runs in 11 innings this season. Buchholz picked up a win on Saturday against Tampa Bay, despite surrendering five runs and six hits in seven innings. He had allowed seven runs in four frames of his season debut.
Buchholz has traditionally struggled against the Yanks, posting a 2-3 mark to go along with a 5.59 ERA in seven starts.
One player he will try to stop tonight will be Curtis Granderson, who on Thursday went 5-for-5 with three home runs in New York's 7-6 win over Minnesota.
"It's a thing I've never done. So it's kind of cool," Granderson said. "Definitely a night to remember."
Ivan Nova takes the hill tonight in search of his third straight win. Nova beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Sunday, holding them to four runs and eight hits in six innings. He also struck out eight, but saw his ERA jump to 4.15.
Nova is 0-2 in four games (three starts) against the Red Sox with a 6.62 ERA.