Red Sox, Yankees finally renew AL East rivalry

MLB Baseball

A scheduling quirk gave the New York Yankees 13 games against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox 10 games against the Baltimore Orioles in the first two months of the season.

The odd scheduling in the opening two months featured no games between the Red Sox and Yankees, but that changes Friday night when the rivals commence a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees have dominated the series of late, winning 23 of 29 meetings since being eliminated by Boston in the 2018 American League Division Series. New York also has won 15 of 16 home meetings since then, including the past 11.

New York has hardly resembled a team that has dominated anyone of late. The Yankees played one of their worst games of the season when they dropped a 9-2 decision to Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon. They enter the series with seven losses in their past 10 games, following a 22-8 run from April 22 to May 23.

On Thursday, solo homers by Brett Gardner and Miguel Andujar accounted for New York’s offense. The Yankees mustered six hits and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position without seeing a pitch over 90 mph.

It marked the 10th time in 15 games the Yankees were held to two runs or fewer. During their 10-game slide, they are 8-for-60 (.133) with runners in scoring position. A few key regulars are slumping at the same time.

Giancarlo Stanton, who was rested Thursday, is 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts since returning from a strained quadriceps last Friday. DJ LeMahieu is in a 9-for-49 (.184) slide since May 19, and Gio Urshela is in a 4-for-27 skid.

“I’m frustrated that we didn’t go out and get it done today,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday. “But you also have to get past it right now and know we’ve got a big one starting this weekend.”

The Red Sox are playing better than the team that was outscored 50-23 in seven visits to the Bronx in the pandemic-shortened season. Boston has been at least five games over .500 since April 25, though it also encountered some offensive struggles in dropping three of four at Houston.

The Red Sox were outscored 18-4 in the first three games before salvaging the finale with a 5-1 win on Thursday afternoon. Xander Bogaerts hit a two-run double to end an 0-for-24 skid but still enters this series with a .312 batting average.

“Happy flight is what we call it,” said Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo, who hit a two-run homer Thursday. “Take this momentum, keep it rolling and roll into the next series.”

Friday will mark the first meeting between the teams since Boston manager Alex Cora was reinstated following his one-year suspension for his role in the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, when he was the bench coach.

“I think he’s really good at what he does,” Boone said of Cora. “I know he paid a significant price, but he’s one of the really good managers out there.”

New York’s Michael King (0-2, 2.86 ERA) will make his sixth career start and second this season. Born in Rochester, N.Y., although he attended high school in New England (Warwick, R.I.), the right-hander is 0-3 with a 8.27 ERA as a starting pitcher and allowed four runs (two earned) in 2 1/3 innings Sunday in a 6-2 loss at Detroit.

King is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two career appearances, both in relief, against Boston.

Former Yankee Nathan Eovaldi (6-2, 4.01) starts for Boston and is looking to win three straight starts for the second time this season.

His last outing was last Friday, a 3-1 win over the Miami Marlins in which he allowed four hits in 5 1/3 scoreless innings. It marked the fifth time Eovaldi allowed one run or fewer.

Eovaldi is 1-2 with a 3.58 ERA in nine career appearances (six starts) against New York.

–Field Level Media

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