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The Red Sox disastrous trip to the Bronx is behind them and they briefly lost the Wild Card lead in Texas. The Yankees return to town, giving the Red Sox an opportunity to exorcise the demons that started the tailspin. Amazingly, all four series the rivals have played so far this season have been sweeps, three for the Red Sox and that big one for New York. The Red Sox hold the series edge 8-4, including a 6-0 mark at Fenway, but that hardly matters with a big deficit in the division, especially if they cannot keep their heads above water this weekend. With the chances of winning the division dim, needing to make up seven games in 42, the Red Sox just need wins to maintain their lead in a tight Wild Card race.
Brad Penny (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 5K, 1 BB) and Andy Pettitte (0-1, 13.0 IP, 3 ER, 11 H, 10 K, 6 BB) have both pitched well, but each are looking for their first win in the season series. Junichi Tazawa (0-1, 1.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 0 BB in relief) made his major league debut in the marathon game in New York and gave up the game winning home run to Alex Rodriguez. He will get a chance at redemption as he starts against A. J. Burnett (0-1, 15.1 IP, 11 ER, 14 H, 10 K, 14 BB) who was absolutely shelled in his first two starts against the Red Sox, but pitched very well in the last series. Josh Beckett (2-0, 4 GS, 24.0 IP, 11 ER, 25 H, 23 K, 9 BB) closes the series on the stretch-run ready CC Sabathia (1-1, 14.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 15 k, 4 BB), who is 4-0 in four starts this month. Sabathia is showing the same form as he did last year with the Brewers and in 2007 with the Indians, making the playoffs in both previous seasons.
The Red Sox pitching was not the problem in the last series, especially when considering they held the Yankees scoreless for over 14 innings in the second game, which they lost in the 15th. The problem was their lack to produce any kind of offense, setting a historic streak of ineptitude in the process. The offense came back against the Tigers, disappeared against the Rangers, and is back in Toronto, so inconsistency seems to be the only constant.
Every time the Red Sox slump, especially on offense, they seem to return to Fenway and break out in a big way. They also play the Yankees especially well in Fenway, so they could keep the momentum they have from Toronto and start to pull away with the Wild Card. Tazawa should get some run support as the Red Sox seem to love seeing Burnett in Fenway and help propel the Red Sox to a two to one edge this weekend.