Ah, the classic ‘wrap around’ series against the Red Sox kicks off tonight at Yankee Stadium. The Boston Red Sox (62-47) currently sit seven games in the loss column behind the Yankees. With only 53 games left on the Red Sox schedule, they need to turn it on or they’ll watch the playoffs from home this year. So far, the Yanks are 5-3 this year against the Red Sox. Josh Beckett (pictured below) is lucky that ex-Yank Shelley Duncan didn’t kick his ass on Tuesday night and send him back to the DL for the 100th time this season…

Shelley Duncan would destroy you, Josh.

Keys to the Series

1. Yo Adrian: Red Sox third baseman, Adrian Beltre has really thrived in Beantown this year. Not only was the 31 year old an All-Star this year, but he currently has the fourth highest batting average (.337) in the American League. Beltre has gotten off to a hot start in August, collecting hits in 7 of 15 at-bats including two homers heading into Thursday’s action. Yankee pitching has held Beltre down this year (8 for 31, 2 HRs), but they will need to be careful with him.

2. No Ped or Youk: Second baseman, Dustin Pedroia (broken left foot) and Kevin Youkilis (right thumb injury) are currently on the disabled list and will not play against the Yanks. Pedroia, a .292 career hitter against the Yanks, and Youkilis, a .326 career hitter, have always performed well in clutch situations. Youkilis in particular was hitting .500 against the Yankees this year with two home runs in the Bronx. Not sad to see either of them not suit up.

3. Big Poppa, Sawk Killa: CC Sabathia has been dominant at home this year. The Big Man is 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA in ten starts. In three home starts against the Red Sox as a Yankee, Sabathia is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA. He has only given up seven hits in 22 innings!

Here’s the tale of the tape:

BOS NYY Advantage
OBP .347 (3rd) .350 (1st) NYY
HRs 142 (2nd) 129 (3rd) BOS
ERA 4.15 (9th) 3.92 (5th) NYY
BAA .249 (5th) .248 (4th) NYY
Fielding .984 (7th) .988 (2nd) NYY

**All numbers are based on AL ranks.

So let’s dive into the pitching match-ups for this series. The Red Sox will throw their four best arms out there. Pretty much, this is their last stand. Win this series, get back into the division race. Lose this series and the season really starts to fade away…

Friday, 7:05 PM, YES: Clay Buchholz (11-5, 2.59 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (9-7, 4.61 ERA)

Last Start:
Buchholz: ND, eight innings, one earned run, five strikeouts (vs. Detroit)
Vazquez: ND, 6 1/3 innings, four earned runs, four strikeouts (at Tampa Bay)

**Buchholz lost his only start against the Yanks this year, giving way to six runs in only five innings.
**Vazquez has not made a start against the Red Sox this season. Vazquez is 3-7 with a 4.20 ERA in ten career starts against Boston.

Saturday, 4:10 PM, FOX: John Lackey (10-6, 4.48 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (13-5, 3.19 ERA)

Last Start:
Lackey: Loss, 5 1/3 innings, six earned runs, seven strikeouts (vs. Cleveland)
Sabathia: Loss, 6 2/3 innings, three earned runs, three strikeouts (at Tampa Bay)

**Lackey threw six shutout innings in his only start against the Bombers this year. Lackey is 5-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 17 career starts.
**Noted above, CC has just dominated the Red Sox at home.

Sunday, 8:05 PM, ESPN: Josh Beckett (3-1, 5.70 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (9-9, 4.93 ERA)

Last Start:
Beckett: Win, eight innings, one earned run, eight strikeouts (vs. Cleveland)
Burnett: Loss, 4 2/3 innings, eight earned runs, four strikeouts (vs. Toronto)

**Beckett has given up 19 runs in 14 2/3 innings to the Yankees this season.
**Burnett has given up 11 runs in 11 2/3 innings to the Red Sox this season.

Monday, 2:05 PM, YES: Jon Lester (11-6, 3.05 ERA) vs. Dustin Moseley (1-1, 4.13 ERA)

Last Start:
Lester: Loss, six innings, four earned runs, seven strikeouts (vs. Detroit)
Moseley: Loss, 7 1/3 innings, five earned runs, two strikeouts (vs. Toronto)

**Even though Lester has struck out 26 hitters in his last 22 innings, Lester has dropped his last three decisions while posting a 4.71 ERA. Lester is 1-0 against the Yanks this year.

**Once again, Moseley will fill for the injured Andy Pettitte.

Enjoy the series!