New York Yankees: Boston Red Sox

NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Red Sox finish up this three-gamer under the national spotlight of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Following Saturday's "idiot" game when Mike Napoli beat Masahiro Tanaka late, the pitching matchup on Sunday is Chase Whitley (3-1, 4.07 ERA) vs. John Lackey (8-5, 3.45). Here is the lineup that Joe Girardi will send out there.

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Brian McCann, C
Carlos Beltran, DH
Kelly Johnson, 3B
Brian Roberts, 2B
Ichiro Suzuki, RF

A-Rod's lawyer: I didn't dis Big Papi

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
3:28
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In August, when Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch thrown by Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster, Sox slugger David Ortiz stuck up for A-Rod. The two hung out that same weekend. They are good friends.

Now, A-Rod's attorney, Joe Tacopina, has pointed a finger up north -- though Tacopina denied it was at Ortiz.

In an interview with ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd on Tuesday, Tacopina said he wouldn't name others accused of PED use, but "some of them are godlike in Boston right now."

In an e-mail to the Boston Globe, Tacopina denied he was talking about Big Papi, but wouldn't say to whom he was referring.

In 2009, the New York Times reported that Ortiz failed a test during the 2003 survey drug program. Ortiz has probably never been more popular than he is now after Boston's 2013 championship run.

Reggie: 'Silly' to call Ortiz Mr. October

November, 1, 2013
11/01/13
8:07
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Reggie Jackson, David OrtizGetty ImagesReggie Jackson isn't willing to give up his Mr. October moniker.
Reggie Jackson has a message for anyone wanting to dub David Ortiz "Mr. October" after being named MVP of the World Series for his efforts in Boston's triumph over St. Louis.

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"He did a great job [in the playoffs]. There's only one Mr. October," Jackson said on HuffPost Live on Thursday. "We got one day left now. Don't say nothing silly now."

Jackson, who was promoting his book "Becoming Mr. October", earned his nickname for his stellar play in the postseason during his Hall-of-Fame career.

He hit .278 with 18 homers and 48 RBIs in 77 career postseason games. In 27 World Series games, he hit .357 with a .457 on-base percentage and .755 slugging percentage with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. Jackson won five World Series crowns, two with the Yankees.

He's most famous for hitting three straight homers in the Yankees' 7-2 win over the Dodgers in the decisive Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.

Ortiz hit .688 with a slugging percentage of 1.188 in this year's World Series, and is a career .295 hitter in the postseason with 17 homers and 60 RBIs. In the World Series, he's a .455 hitter and his slugging percentage is .795. He has three homers and 14 RBIs in 14 World Series games.

While Jackson defended his territory in the interview, he praised the Red Sox designated hitter. Ortiz has now won three World Series titles with Boston.

"I like to watch Big Papi play, for sure," Jackson said.

Jackson said he had no problem watching the Red Sox win it all this year.

"I really had great admiration for the teams in the World Series [chase] -- Dodgers, Detroit, St. Louis, the Red Sox," Jackson said. "I thought any one would have been a great representation of being a champion."

QUESTION: Who is Mr. October: Reggie or Ortiz? Please let us know in the comments section below.

One Mo Time: Rivera vs. Red Sox

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
10:00
AM ET
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonMariano Rivera is carried off the field by his teammates after the Yankees' win over the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.
All season, we’ve been tracking Mariano Rivera as he prepares to pitch in his final series against each team. Next up on the goodbye list: the Boston Red Sox.

By the Numbers
Rivera's career stats vs. Red Sox

Regular Season

2.86 ERA
58 saves
16 blown saves
126 innings pitched
120 hits
40 earned runs
120 strikeouts
37 walks

Postseason
0.92 ERA
6 saves
2 blown saves
19 2/3 innings pitched
16 hits
2 earned runs
15 strikeouts
2 walks

Did you know?
• Rivera's 58 saves vs. the Red Sox are not only the most against the franchise by any player, but are more than the next two pitchers on the list combined, Rick Aguilera (27) and Roberto Hernandez (22).

• Mo has four saves vs. the Red Sox this season, and with three games remaining has a chance to match or surpass his single-season mark for saves against Boston. In 2001, 2005 and 2007 he had six.

• Rivera's 13 wins against the Red Sox are his most vs. any team. He is also tied with Rollie Fingers for the most wins by a relief pitcher against the Red Sox in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

• Mariano did not allow a home run to a Red Sox batter over his first 30 appearances (34 innings) vs. the team.

That streak of 30 straight relief appearances without allowing a homer to begin his career vs. the Red Sox is the second-longest such streak all time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Red Faber didn't allow a homer in his first 32 relief appearances vs. the Red Sox from 1914-33.

• The first Red Sox hitter to go deep off Rivera was Manny Ramirez on June 4, 2001. Rivera blew the save thanks to Ramirez's two-run shot in the top of the ninth inning, but Luis Sojo's walk-off single in the bottom of the frame gave Rivera and the Yankees the win.

• Rivera's six postseason saves against the Red Sox are his most vs. any team. It is also tied for the most postseason saves by a single player against any team. Dennis Eckersley also had six postseason saves vs. the Red Sox.

• In seven playoff appearances at Yankee Stadium vs. the Red Sox, Rivera has converted all three of his save opportunities and has not allowed a run in 10 innings. In those games he has faced just nine batters with a man in scoring position, and has retired all of them, including five via strikeout.

• Rivera has blown 16 regular-season saves vs. the Red Sox, his most against any team. It is also the most blown saves by a single pitcher against any team, ahead of Kent Tekulve's 14 blown saves vs. the Phillies.

• Rivera has hit nine Red Sox batters in his career. That's three more than any other team he's faced. He has hit Kevin Youkilis three times, but no other Red Sox hitter more than once.

• Rivera did not allow a stolen base in any of his first 48 appearances against the Red Sox, a streak that would end during the 2004 regular season when the Red Sox had steals in two different games against him.

They would get another in the postseason, the famous one by Dave Roberts in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the only one they would get in 12 postseason games against him.

They Said It
"In a world of uncertainty, in a world of 'look at me athletes,' for almost 20 years he was the most selfless, accountable and consistent professional in the history of sports."
-- Curt Schilling, former Red Sox pitcher

The Magic Mo'ment
• Oct. 16, 2003 -- Rivera closes out Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox with three scoreless innings. Rivera's effort allowed Aaron Boone to win the game with a walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the 11th inning, giving the Yankees and Rivera one of the most dramatic postseason wins in baseball history.

More on Game 7:
• Rivera is one of four pitchers to throw at least three scoreless innings of relief to earn the win in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Hall of Famer Walter Johnson (1924 Senators), Joe Page (1947 Yankees) and Pedro Martinez (1999 Red Sox).

• Rivera has pitched three innings or more in two postseason games, both of which the Yankees won on dramatic home runs, the first by Jim Leyritz in Game 2 of the 1995 ALDS against the Mariners and the other in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, won by Boone’s homer.

Other Mo'ments
• April 11, 2005 -- Rivera is given a standing ovation as players are introduced at Fenway Park prior to the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees, one in which the home fans would celebrate the team ending its World Series drought. Rivera would respond by tipping his cap to the crowd.

• July 5, 2008 -- The Red Sox trail the Yankees 2-1 with the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning. The time has come for a Rivera great escape. He would strike out Coco Crisp, get Jason Varitek to pop to first and strike out Julio Lugo to end the game.

Joba on blown call: Replay speaks for itself

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
12:44
AM ET
NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain thought it was a strike. So did his batterymate, Austin Romine.

But the only person whose opinion actually mattered, first-base umpire Joe West, disagreed.

With one out and Jacoby Ellsbury on second base in the bottom of the 10th inning, Chamberlain threw Shane Victorino a 2-2 slider. Victorino appeared to go too far on a check swing.

But West didn’t see it that way.

And on the very next pitch -- a 96 mph fastball -- Victorino lined an RBI single to right-center field that proved to be the winning run in a crushing 9-8 loss on Friday night at the Stadium.

[+] EnlargeJoba Chamberlain
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJoba Chamberlain allowed the decisive run in the Yankees' 9-8 loss to the rival Red Sox on Thursday.
“Y’all saw the replay. It kind of speaks for itself,” said Chamberlain, who was ejected by West after being lifted following the hit.

“I thought he swung. I thought that was a pretty key moment in the game, and I thought he swung,” added Romine, who noted he had not seen the replay.

Asked what he said to West to get run, Chamberlain replied, “Enough to get ejected.”

Chamberlain said he wanted to elevate the fastball after seeing Victorino move up in the batter’s box, but couldn’t execute the pitch.

“It’s frustrating,” he said.

Yankees fans were extremely frustrated the moment they saw Chamberlain trot out of the bullpen for the 10th, but manager Joe Girardi essentially had nowhere else to turn. Shawn Kelley was unavailable due to a triceps issue, while Girardi said he didn’t want to bring Phil Hughes, who was just removed from the rotation, into the game in that spot.

So Chamberlain, who served up a three-run home run Sunday against Baltimore, was brought into another high-leverage situation and couldn’t deliver.

The Yankees had a chance to cut down Ellsbury at the plate, but Romine, who made two poor throws to second on Red Sox steal attempts, couldn’t handle Ichiro Suzuki’s short-hop throw.

“I knew he was coming around third pretty quick. And I was trying to block the plate,” said Romine, adding that he felt like he let the team down. “The throw kind of short-hopped me a little bit, and I tried the best I could to pick it. I just didn’t get a good glove on it.”

The Yankees had rallied back from a 7-2 deficit, scoring six runs during a 34-minute seventh inning. But Mariano Rivera was unable to hold the lead -- blowing his 15th career save against the Red Sox -- and eventually, Girardi waved what felt like a big white flag, inserting Chamberlain.

It may not be a season-ending loss, but it was crushing nonetheless.

“We battled back. We did everything we needed to do to get a win,” Chamberlain said.

But all they got for their efforts was a 4-hour, 32-minute defeat.

Where are all the fans?

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
8:01
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Yankees and Red Sox are playing a very meaningful game in the Bronx in early September.

So where, exactly, is everyone?

Significant portions of sections in the left-field and right-field corners of Yankee Stadium are empty for Thursday night’s game.

Of course, we’re in the middle of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, so that could be one of the reasons. Another? Many kids are back in school.

Still, it’s Yankees-Red Sox!

For the season, the Yankees have averaged 44,647 for six home dates against the Red Sox this season -- including two of their four sellouts.

First Pitch: So we meet again

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
6:00
AM ET
Joe GirardiAP Photo/Michael DwyerRemember this scene? It may have turned around the Yankees' season.
NEW YORK -- The ball left Alex Rodriguez's bat and it changed some of the perception of him. After Boston Red Sox's Ryan Dempster took the appeal process into his own hands by firing four pitches at A-Rod until he finally hit him, Rodriguez drilled a solo homer off Dempster.

"It was the ultimate payback," Rodriguez said after the New York Yankees' 9-6 win at Fenway on Aug. 18.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesA-Rod getting drilled by Ryan Dempster energized the Bombers in Boston and beyond.
Now, the two teams are set to meet again. Dempster will not pitch for the Red Sox after he started on Wednesday, but there still may be the lingering effects of that Sunday night when Yankees manager Joe Girardi went berserk, defending A-Rod, who had sicked his new lawyer, Joe Tacopina, on the Yankees the day before.

"Time is always good," Girardi said on Wednesday, trying to play down any impact of that Sunday on this Thursday. "I think we obviously know what is at stake. We have to go out and play the games and win the games. That is the most important thing. I think our guys know what is at stake."

On that night, my colleague, Wallace Matthews opined:

Now it can be revealed: There is a vast, baseball-wide conspiracy against Alex Rodriguez, and it includes the commissioner of baseball, the front office of the New York Yankees and players like Ryan Dempster.

They are conspiring, however improbably, to turn A-Rod into a sympathetic figure, and however unwittingly -- at least in the case of Dempster and whoever else takes it into his own hands to mete out the punishment that baseball's collective bargaining agreement has deferred -- to bring the Yankees together at just the wrong time for the rest of the American League.

If you want to look for rallying points in a season that has had woefully few of them so far, look no further than the weekend of Aug. 16-19, 2013.


Since then, including that Sunday night, the Yankees are 12-5. Now, the two teams meet again.

Up now: Wally on how the first-place Red Sox are trying to be spoilers. Plus, notes from Mariano Rivera's four-out save in the series sweep of the Chicago White Sox.

On deck: The Yankees and the Red Sox face off. Here are your matchups: Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88) vs. Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91); Friday, it's Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01) vs. Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89); Saturday, it's David Huff (2-0, 3.32) vs. John Lackey (8-12, 3.22); and Sunday, it's Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99) vs. Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88). Note: Saturday and Sunday are both 1:05 p.m. starts.

In the hole: Wallace Matthews, Ian O'Connor and Mike Mazzeo will have you covered from the Bronx. Plus, ESPN Boston will provide all the news from the Sox's clubhouse.

Question: What are your expectations for this four-gamer?

Big Papi worried Dempster woke up Yanks

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
11:48
AM ET
NEW YORK -- It is newsworthy that David Ortiz supported Alex Rodriguez and not his own teammate, Ryan Dempster, after Dempster intentionally drilled A-Rod. But the comment that might have been as interesting as Big Papi supporting his buddy, A-Rod, was the one in which he warned that Dempster might have awakened the Yankees.

"You saw how the game ended up," Ortiz told USA Today. "CC Sabathia was throwing 91 (mph) and started throwing 96. Alex later hit one way out there. You're talking about a good team that you can't wake up. But we learn from our mistakes."

Back in 2004, a lot of folks felt like when Jason Varitek shoved A-Rod at Fenway that it sparked the Red Sox. They went on to win 46 of their final 66 and a championship.

Do you think Dempster drilling A-Rod has sparked the Yankees?

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 9, Red Sox 6

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
12:47
AM ET
BOSTON -- In another wild night at Fenway, Ryan Dempster intentionally drilled Alex Rodriguez in the second inning, and then Rodriguez drilled a homer off Dempster in the sixth in the Yankees' 9-6 win. Rodriguez finished the night 3-for-4 with the home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Rodriguez is now hitting .319 in 47 at-bats this season.

What it means: The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox to move 7½ games behind Boston in the AL East and six back in the wild card.

A-Rod drilled: Dempster intentionally nailed A-Rod in the second inning. Dempster threw his first pitch, an 89 mph fastball, low and behind A-Rod, causing Rodriguez to fall to the ground. After two inside pitches made it 3-0, Dempster nailed Rodriguez on the left elbow pad with a 92 mph fastball. Both benches cleared, and the bullpens emptied.

Girardi goes nuts: A livid Joe Girardi emerged from the Yankees dugout and went off on plate umpire Brian O'Nora and Dempster. Girardi was peeved at O'Nora for not tossing Dempster out of the game when it was so obvious he was throwing at A-Rod. Opposing managers, coaches and players often complain that such a warning is unfair to the side that has not done anything because it limits their pitchers from throwing inside. Plus, there was no doubt of Dempster's intention.

Girardi, who almost never swears, appeared to light up Dempster, calling him a couple of expletive-filled names that questioned the pitcher's toughness. For his troubles, Girardi was ejected. To read Wallace Matthews' initial news story that includes the video, click here.

The homer: In the sixth, with the Yankees down 6-3, Rodriguez drilled Dempster for a solo shot to center. It was a monster of a homer that Rodriguez clearly enjoyed. He slapped his hands around first, and he seemed to yell as he came around third. When he touched home plate, he seemed to mimic his friend David Ortiz's celebration by stopping at home plate and pointing to the sky with both hands.

It was his second of the season. If he hits 11 more and ties Willie Mays, he earns a $6 million bonus.

Rally starter: After A-Rod's homer, the Yankees went on to take the lead off Dempster. After two singles and a walk, Dempster was taken out for lefty Drake Britton. Brett Gardner launched a bases-clearing triple into right center to give the Yankees the lead. Gardner appeared to be one of the most fired up Yankees when A-Rod was hit and looked the same way as he went into third.

Standing O: Dempster left to a standing ovation from the Fenway fans. His final line: 5⅓ innings, 7 runs (all earned) on 9 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. Oh, and he hit a batter.

No ace: CC Sabathia had little for the Yankees. He gave up 6 earned runs on 7 hits in 5⅓ innings and failed to retaliate. In his sixth and final inning, he threw a 92 mph fastball to Jacoby Ellsbury high and inside. It is debatable if the pitch was on purpose, because there was a man on and the Yankees were up just a run. Sabathia will surely say it was not.

Another injury: Eduardo Nunez hurt himself in the four-run sixth. He hit a single and then landed awkwardly on the bag as he scurried back to first. He stayed in the game and advanced to third, but then was taken out with a tight right hamstring. Jayson Nix replaced him.

Mo like it: Mariano Rivera, pitching for the first time since he blew his third consecutive save a week ago, picked up the save. The Red Sox fans gave Rivera a standing ovation.

Rivera brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted. Saltalamacchia lined out hard to left. The game lasted four hours and 12 minutes.

Cano hit: In the ninth, Rubby De La Rosa hit Robinson Cano on the foot. De La Rosa wasn't ejected, and the pained Cano stayed in the game.

On deck: Wally and I will have all the news from the clubhouse. Plus, Wally will chime in with a column. I'll be on with Robin Lundberg after 1 a.m. ET on 98.7 FM and on "Mike & Mike" on ESPN Radio on Monday at 9:15 a.m. ET. Plus, I'm sure there will be more around-the-clock coverage of you know who.

In the hole: The Yankees are off on Monday and then play four games in three days against the Blue Jays, including a day-night double-header on Tuesday in the Bronx.

A-Rod story roundup: Grievance, Brian Cashman, Drilling and Payoff.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 6, Yankees 1

August, 17, 2013
8/17/13
7:37
PM ET
BOSTON -- The anticipated beanball from John Lackey to Alex Rodriguez never came -- instead, the Yankees third baseman was brushed back by his own team's president -- and the Yankees offense, which exploded for 39 runs in its previous four games, never fired today against the Boston Red Sox as the Yankees went down 6-1 to revert to 8½ games back of the AL East leaders. This was an especially disappointing loss with the Yankees' best starter on the mound.

Anti-Hiro: Hiroki Kuroda turned in shortest workday in more than a month, after being chased in the sixth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury lined a double over Ichiro Suzuki's head to drive in the Red Sox's fifth run of the game. Kuroda got little help from his field (see below), as two of the runs were unearned, but he was hit hard throughout his 5⅔ innings, allowing a season-high 11 hits.

Gilligan's Island: The Yankees were stranding baserunners like castaways on a desert island through the first five innings. In the second, they loaded the bases on two walks and a single but came up empty when Chris Stewart flied out to center; they started the inning with runners on first and second and none out but planted the seeds of their RISP failure when Sox shortstop Stephen Drew made a running, over-the-shoulder grab of Curtis Granderson's pop fly to short left-center and then fired behind Alfonso Soriano to double him off at second. Then, in the fifth, the Yankees got runners to second and third with none out after a single by Lyle Overbay and a ground-rule double by Stewart but came up with just one run when Brett Gardner, Suzuki (RBI) and Robinson Cano all failed to hit the ball out of the infield to make three straight groundouts.

Nun-E: Eduardo Nunez's throwing error led to three Boston runs -- two of them unearned -- in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third --courtesy of a leadoff double by David Ortiz and a single by Mike Carp off Kuroda -- Nunez's wild throw on Drew's grounder, allowing Ortiz to score and Carp to go to second. Singles by Will Middlebrooks and Ellsbury scored two more runs to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.

Worm-killers: Fourteen of the Yankees' first 18 outs came on infield grounders, six of which were handled -- at least two spectacularly -- by second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Four others were comebackers to Lackey, whose cutter was obviously behaving as instructed.

Big Pop: David Ortiz crushed a 3-2 pitch from Adam Warren into the batter's eye beyond the wall in dead center field for the Red Sox's sixth run of the game. It was homer No. 24 for Papi.

The boos be flowin': The Fenway Park crowd never seems to tire of booing Rodriguez, which they did through all four of his plate appearances (0-for-3 with a walk). There was one cheer, however -- when a Junichi Tazawa fastball buzzed A-Rod's chin in the ninth inning.


BOSTON -- The New York Yankees were hurt by another poor start by CC Sabathia. They fought back in this extremely long game, but finally lost when Mike Napoli hit a mammoth game-winning home run off Adam Warren in the 11th inning. It was Napoli's second homer of the game.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Yankees lose two of three in Boston. They are seven games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. It was a disappointing end to a four-hour, 46-minute marathon.

ACE-LESS: Looking to reboot his season after what he called a "terrible" first half, Sabathia had more of the same on Sunday night. Given a three-run lead after two innings, Sabathia gave it right back and then some.

In the third, Sabathia allowed four runs, three of which came on a Napoli homer that traveled over the Green Monster and out of the stadium. In the fourth, Sabathia gave up another two runs. In the fifth, Jonny Gomes took him deep. By the sixth, Sabathia was gone.

Sabathia's line was U-G-L-Y. He went five innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits. He struck out five and walked two. He also hit a couple of batters. He has now allowed a career-high 23 homers in a season. We are not even into August.

TYING IT UP: After falling behind 7-3, the Yankees came back, putting up two spots in the sixth and the seventh. In the sixth, Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano nailed RBI singles. The Yankees could have had more, but Lyle Overbay hit into a bases-loaded double play to end the inning.

In the seventh, Chris Stewart took advantage of inexperienced Red Sox third baseman Jose Iglesias, bunting for a hit. Iglesias ended up throwing the ball away, allowing a run to score. Luis Cruz's RBI groundout tied the game.

Again, the Yankees could have had more. After Gardner's incredible 15-pitch walk, Ichiro Suzuki grounded out with runners on the corners to end the inning.

A LITTLE HELP: The Yankees scored two in the first inning thanks in large part to the Red Sox defense. After Gardner singled to lead off, Ichiro hit into what could have been a possible double play. Instead Ryan Dempster threw the ball into center field. The Yankees had first and third and no outs.

Next, Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw a ball into center field as Ichiro stole second. Gardner came home. After a Cano walk and an out, Vernon Wells singled home another run.

With Cano on second, Travis Hafner -- who is almost an automatic out these days -- struck out and Eduardo Nunez grounded out.

In the second, Cano hit an RBI single to give Sabathia his 3-0 lead to work with.

GARDNER'S NIGHT: It ended up not leading to anything, but Gardner's 15-pitch walk in the seventh against Junichi Tazawa took almost 10 minutes.

Gardner reached base five times at Fenway, becoming the first Yankee to do that since Mickey Mantle, according to ESPN researcher Katie Sharp.

NO CONFIDENCE: Hafner, who is only on the team to hit, was pinch hit for with Brent Lillibridge against lefty Craig Breslow in the seventh. Lillibridge is a career .206 hitter. He popped out.

HOUDINI: In the eighth with the game tied, David Robertson loaded the bases, with help from an error by Cruz. Robertson escaped by forcing a Napoli double play.

OVERDONE: In the 10th, Gardner and Cano got on against Drake Britton with one out. Overbay hit into another double play.

NOT TOO MANY HOMERS: The Yankees didn't homer in the series. Last time that happened here? Eighteen years ago.

ON-DECK: Johnette Howard will write a column on the problems with Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez. I'll patrol the clubhouse looking for all the news that is fit to put on the Internet.

5 stats to know: Yankees at Red Sox

July, 21, 2013
7/21/13
3:35
PM ET
CC Sabathia and Ryan DempsterGetty Images CC Sabathia will face Ryan Dempster on Sunday Night Baseball.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will meet Sunday night in the rubber game of a three-game series at 8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN.

Here are five stats our broadcast crew will likely be talking about a lot during Sunday night’s contest.

1. The Yankees' first four series out of the All-Star break are against the division-leading Red Sox, the team with the fifth-best record in the AL (Texas Rangers), a Tampa Bay Rays team that entered Sunday having won 19 of 23 and a Los Angeles Dodgers team that entered Sunday with 19 wins in their last 24 games.

The Yankees are averaging 3.9 runs per game and have a .243 batting average, .307 on-base percentage and .376 slugging percentage. Each of those stats, if they hold through to season’s end, would be their worst in those categories since 1990.

2. Red Sox hitters have had a very sound approach this season. They lead the majors in pitches seen per at-bat (4.04).

Thirty percent of the balls they’ve hit this season have been to the opposite field, the highest rate in the majors.

The Red Sox are hitting .196 in two-strike counts, ranking third in the majors. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia leads the AL with a .294 batting average in two-strike counts in 2013.

3. CC Sabathia has thrown more than 42,000 pitches since 2001, the most of anyone in the major leagues. He’s thrown 1,637.1 innings since 2007 (including the postseason), more than 100 more than any other pitcher.

Sabathia’s fastball is averaging 90.6 mph, down 1.6 mph from last season, and down more than 3 mph from 2011. Opponents are hitting .300 against the pitch this season

He enters with a 5.44 ERA in seven starts at Fenway Park with the Yankees, his highest ERA in any ballpark since joining the team.

Sabathia will be trying to be the first Yankees starter to win a game on his birthday (he turns 33 today) since Joe Cowley in 1984. Before Cowley, Ron Guidry did it in 1977 and 1981.

4. Ryan Dempster enters this start with an 0-5 record, a 7.29 ERA and a 1.050 opponents’ OPS in six career starts against the Yankees. Since posting a 2.93 ERA in his first seven starts, Dempster has a 5.08 ERA. He’s gone six straight starts with fewer than five strikeouts. He hasn’t had a stretch of seven straight starts since 2002-03.

5. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera earned his 57th regular-season save against the Red Sox on Saturday, giving him 30 more than the pitcher with the next-highest total against the Sox (Rick Aguilera).

Rivera has a 2.58 ERA and 35 regular-season saves at Fenway Park. There are only two visiting ballparks at which he’s had more saves: Camden Yards (41) and Tropicana Field (36).

Gardner, Yankees sorry in Boston

July, 20, 2013
7/20/13
12:21
AM ET
BOSTON -- Brett Gardner slammed his helmet down, letting out all the frustration New York Yankees fans are experiencing night in and night out. In the fifth, Gardner badly wanted to bring home a runner from second and tie the game with a hit. Instead he watched a borderline 3-2 pitch be called for strike three.

The Yankees would never get the lead. They would lose 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox. And although Andy Pettitte didn't pitch well enough, it was again the Yankees' inability to score that led to their third straight loss.

[+] EnlargeBrett Gardner
Winslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsIf things don't change fast, Brett Gardner won't be the only Yankee throwing a fit.
So when Gardner saw the called strike three from home plate ump Mike Everitt, he took his helmet off and boom. He slammed it to the ground with two hands, which is, as usually the case, an automatic ejection.

"The bottom line is I have to have better control of my emotions and not do what I did," Gardner said.

Gardner apologized to Joe Girardi because his temper forced Girardi to lose one of his two better players. Instead, Alberto Gonzalez had to play the outfield, while Luis Cruz moved to third because of Zoilo Almonte's injury.

"What I did was wrong," Gardner said.

His manager defended him and said he shouldn't have been tossed, but the frustration of the losing and the lack of runs at some point has to mount on guys like Gardner's shoulders.

"It was building up a little bit," Gardner said.

Gardner wouldn't go any further into it, so it was unclear if his problem was with the umpiring or the way the offense can't score any runs. This makes it hard for the Yankees' starters.

Pettitte again did not come through with a quality start, but he wasn't awful. In fact, after giving up homers in each of the first two innings, Pettitte threw well. Jacoby Ellsbury took him deep on the second pitch of the first inning. But then Petitte settled down in the middle innings and pitched into the seventh. The fourth run he gave up was on a bloop ground-rule double, and then Shawn Kelley let the inherited run come home in the seventh.

Pettitte, who is now 7-7 with a 4.47 ERA, expects more from himself, so he was beating himself up a little, while vowing that it will get better.

"It is not going the way I want it to, but it will turn," Pettitte said.

If not, Gardner won't be the only one erupting.

Pettite's key: Better secondary stuff

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
4:01
PM ET
Andy Pettitte made eight starts prior to getting hurt and posted a respectable 3.83 ERA.

He only allowed more than three runs twice.

In eight starts coming off the disabled list, Pettitte's ERA is 4.96 and he's allowed more than three runs in all but one of those starts.

Two pitches have been slow to come back for Pettitte -- his cutter/slider and his changeup.

We've put a side-by-side comparison of Pettite's pitches before the injury with their performance since his return.

The stats to take heed of are those with the two pitch types we mentioned.

When Pettitte is going well, his rate of outs to baserunners with those pitches is in the 4-to-1 range. In his last eight starts, he's getting only about two outs with his cutter/slider for every baserunner, and his ratio with the changeup is almost 1-to-1.

Keep an eye out for the progress of both of those pitches beginning tonight in Boston.
Here is the Yankees' lineup as they face Clay Buchholz at the Stadium on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball:

Brett Gardner, CF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Travis Hafner, DH
Vernon Wells, LF
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Jayson Nix, SS
Chris Stewart, C

Hiroki Kuroda, P

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146