The Boston Red Sox brought out the broom in their recent series while the New York Yankees were on the receiving end of it in their last set. The Red Sox will look to continue their momentum at the expense of the Yankees on Thursday when the American League East rivals renew acquaintances in the opener of a four-game series in the Bronx.
Hanley Ramirez homered for the second straight outing in Wednesday’s 7-1 rout for Boston, which enjoyed a 16-6 edge in run differential against cellar-dwelling Toronto. The 33-year-old is 6-for-15 with five runs scored during his four-game hitting streak, but is just 2-for-19 in his career versus Thursday starter CC Sabathia. The AL East-leading Red Sox hold a 5 1/2-game lead over the Yankees, who were outscored 17-7 while getting swept by Cleveland. “It’s as frustrating as it gets. Calendar’s going to flip to a new month here pretty soon, and we’re running out of time to catch those guys (the Red Sox),” said Brett Gardner, who is just 3-for-14 against Thursday starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), WPIX (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (4-4, 4.19 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82)
Rodriguez has struggled since returning from the disabled list, posting an 0-2 mark with a 5.08 ERA in eight starts. The 24-year-old Venezuelan was blitzed for five runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 7-0 setback versus Baltimore on Saturday. Rodriguez has fared well at Yankee Stadium, posting a 2-1 mark with a 1.38 ERA in four career starts while scattering two hits over six scoreless innings in his last trip on Aug. 11.
Sabathia has answered a trio of four-run outings with two strong performances, including a sterling six-inning stint in a 4-3 win at Boston on Aug. 19. The 37-year-old received a no-decision in last trip to the mound, however, despite yielding one run on five hits in seven innings against Seattle. Sabathia’s lone run allowed came on a solo shot, marking the sixth homer he has surrendered in his last five outings after keeping the ball in the park in his previous five.
1. New York SS Didi Gregorius is 3-for-27 in his last seven contests.
2. Boston RF Mookie Betts has hit safely in eight of his last nine games.
3. Yankees 2B Starlin Castro is 0-for-8 in his last three contests after erupting for seven hits in his previous four outings.
PREDICTION: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4