The Yankees haven’t won an April series against the Red Sox since 2005 and haven’t won an April series in Fenway park since 2001. In the last three years (the two teams didn’t meet in April in 2006), the Yankees are 3-13 against the Red Sox in April. Over that same span, the Yankees are leading the overall series 28-26. The Yankees haven’t lost a season series to Boston since 2004, though the last two years the two teams split the series, going a combined 18-18.
My point is that I half expect the Yankees to split the remaining two games at Fenway (I won’t bother telling you what the other half of me expects with Jon Lester and John Lackey starting those two games for Boston), and while these three games count as much as three in September, I’m just not terribly upset about it.
A.J. Burnett goes for the Yankees tonight. One of of the selling points that got Burnett his big contract with the Yankees was the fact that he had survived for three years in the AL East and posted a 2.60 ERA in four starts against Boston in 2008. So, of course, in his first year as a Yankee, Burnett posted an 8.85 ERA in another four starts against the Red Sox. Burnett did have that one brilliant outing when he dueled with Josh Beckett and held the Sox to one hit over 7 2/3 shutout innings, but that came in the Bronx. His three starts at Fenway last year were all disasters as he allowed 22 runs in just 12 2/3 innings while walking as many as he struck out (ten). So Burnett comes into tonight’s start with something to prove, and I have to say, as is typically my reaction to A.J. Burnett, I’m not optimistic.
Opposing Burnett will be lefty Jon Lester, who frankly should have drawn the Opening Day start as he’s Boston’s best starter. Lester actually got beat up by the Yankees at Fenway the last time he faced them on September 25 of last year, but the other six starts he made against the Yankees in 2008 and 2009 were all quality starts, some of them downright dominating performances.
In more encouraging news, Phil Hughes was sharp in his simulated game in extended spring training yesterday and will join the team today in Boston. He’ll pitch another extended spring training game while the team is in Tampa playing the Rays this weekend. I’m looking forward to his return to the rotation a week from Thursday.
Tonight’s lineup against the lefty Lester finds Marcus Thames in left field and Curtis Granderson batting ninth behind Nick Swisher and Thames. As I’m sure Ken Singleton will say on tonight’s broadcast, there’s only one spot after ninth, and that’s “bench.” Just ask Brett Gardner, who also had a good showing on Sunday night and has a much better track record against left-handed pitching than Granderson.