Appropriately, the winner of the first series between the Yankees and Red Sox this season will be determined by who takes its third and final game. Each team has scored 13 runs so far (with the starting pitchers accounting for 9 of those and the bullpen the other 4), racked up 21 hits (6 going for doubles) and stolen two bases. The Yanks have hit three homers while the Sox have two and a triple. That's about as evenly matched as it gets.
The two teams won't meet again for another month so the victor of tonight's contest will get to hang on to the bragging rights for a pretty substantial amount of time.
The victim of several rainouts during Spring Training, Andy Pettitte won't have any weather-related issues in Fenway tonight. It was over 90 degrees in Boston today and although it will cool down by the time the first pitch is thrown, it will still be unseasonably warm. Pettitte's first appearance of the season
his 35th start as a part of this unique rivalry and when asked about it earlier today had a hard time pretending he was especially excited for it.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, John Lackey will be taking part in the mania that is Yanks vs. Red Sox for the first time. Having pitched half of his games in southern California, the balmy conditions this evening should make Lackey feel right at home. Although he'll be getting eased into the rivalry as far at the weather is concerned, the 6'6" right hander is making his Sox debut against the Yankees and their best line up in front of a Fenway crowd with big expectations for their new highest paid player.
Lackey has faced the Yankees 7 times in the past 5 years between the regular season and the playoffs and has a 3.42 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 17 walks in those games.
For the first time in two years, Lackey will not begin the season on the DL. Despite the delayed debuts in '08 and '09, Lackey was still a valuable starter in those seasons, pitching a total of 340 innings with a 3.79 ERA. Lackey can probably expect his rate stats to take a hit as he settles into the AL East, but the biggest barrier to his success has always been his health and it appears he's off to a good start in that department.
So as Lackey dons a new uniform for the first time and turns the page to a new chapter in his career, the Yanks look to steal the final game of the set before moving on to face the Rays in Tampa. Let's do it.
Brett Gardner makes his triumphant return to left field, after coming off the bench to go 1 for 2 last night. Curtis Granderson slides back down to 7th and everyone else is in their usual spots.