Bitter rivals get together for a day/night doubleheader today as the Boston Red Sox entertain the New York Yankees at Fenway Park for the middle two games of a four-game set.
After a bit of a rough start to the campaign, the Yankees appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time, winning two straight and four of their last six outings on their way to the top mark in the American League East at 50-32.
On Friday night the teams opened up the series with a wild first inning as both squads scored five runs and were then tied 6-6 after two. Eventually the Yankees pulled ahead with a four-run seventh, en route to the 10-8 victory to take a 3-0 advantage in the season series.
"You know, in this ballpark, a lot of crazy things happen," Yankees manager Joe Girardi commented. "My thought is, just keep building on leads and building on leads. But I looked up in the top of the second, and there was no lead."
Mark Teixeira knocked in a pair in the seventh with a two-run triple, finishing with two hits and four RBI as the Yankees moved 5 1/2 games ahead of Baltimore for first place in the division. Curtis Granderson scored three times and Alex Rodriguez logged three hits for the visitors while Robinson Cano finished 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
Cano also knocked in one run to extend his streak in that department to nine straight games as well.
Hiroki Kuroda started the game on the mound for the Yankees, but he failed to factor into the decision as he gave up six earned runs on 10 hits, striking out three in 5 2/3 innings. Boone Logan was credited with the win, his fourth in as many decisions for New York, while Rafael Soriano registered his 20th save of 2012.
Despite his recent success against the Yankees, Boston hurler Josh Beckett permitted six runs on eight hits and a couple of walks, striking out five over five innings before making his exit. Andrew Miller was handed the loss as he allowed two runs in just one-third inning.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected on his 17th home run of the season for the Sox, knocking in three runs in an effort to offset his three strikeouts. Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz both added three hits for a Boston squad which has lost four in a row and is now just one game over .500 on the season and 8 1/2 games out of contention in the division while sitting in fourth place.
Even though he has been used sparingly so far this season, Freddy Garcia is slated to make the start in the first game of the day for the Yankees. The right-hander, who has a total of just 36 1/3 innings thus far in 2012, last pitched on Monday against Tampa Bay as the Yankees bowed to the Rays on the road, 4-3.
Garcia made it through 5 1/3 innings in that matchup, allowing two runs on five hits -- two home runs -- while striking out four.
Now 2-2 on the season with a hefty 5.94 ERA, Garcia has a career mark of 9-4 with a 4.76 ERA all-time versus the Red Sox.
As for Boston, they have Franklin Morales penciled in as their starter for the first half of the day. The left-hander most recently made an appearance against Oakland on the road three days ago, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings as he fanned two batters, but still the Sox ended up with a 3-2 loss.
Morales, who has surrendered 10 runs on 20 hits over 18 2/3 innings at Fenway Park so far in 2012, has a career record of 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA against the Yankees.
Game two of the day will have the home team sending Felix Doubront to the hill as he tries to get back into the win column after posting no decision in his most recent outing and a loss to Toronto in the game prior.
The left-hander has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox considering he came into this season with a career mark of only 2-2 and already has eight victories to his credit this year.
Doubront, who has faced the Yankees five times previously in his career but has yet to record a decision against the club, last pitched on Sunday when he allowed one run on three hits, but walked five and struck out four in 4 1/3 innings against Seattle on the road.
Now in his sixth season with the Yankees, Phil Hughes will also get a crack at Boston on this final weekend before the All-Star break. Already with his second-highest win total in a season, behind his 18-8 effort in 2010, Hughes is shooting for his 10th victory of the campaign this evening.
The right-hander has delivered with six wins in his last seven decisions, including back-to-back victories over the Indians and White Sox. Against Chicago on Sunday the California native permitted two runs on six hits and a walk, striking out eight over as many innings in a 4-2 triumph.
Hughes, who has more than four times as many strikeouts (89) as he does bases- on-balls (22) at this stage, has been roughed up by Boston over the years and has only a 2-5 record with a 6.65 ERA to show for his efforts.