Red Sox have hit Burnett hard with Yankees

June, 8, 2011
6/08/11
12:56
PM ET
(The New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox, Wednesday at 7 ET on ESPN.)

The Red Sox are 6-1 against the Yankees in 2011, but recent history suggests that by the end of the season this series will balance itself out. The season series each of the last three seasons has been split 9-9. (In 2009, Boston won the first eight games. Last season New York won five of the first seven.)

Recent history also suggests that Yankees' starter A.J. Burnett will struggle, which is somewhat odd since he dominated the Red Sox before signing with the Yankees.

As a member of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2006-08, Burnett was 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA against the Red Sox. With the Yankees, Burnett is is 0-3 with an 8.33 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the highest ERA for any pitcher who’s thrown at least 25 innings against the Red Sox over the last three seasons.

One player who has given Burnett problems is Dustin Pedroia. He has a .475 on-base percentage against Burnett, thanks largely to 10 walks in 40 plate appearances. Pedroia is part of an interesting group of hitters who have had great success reaching base against Burnett. His .475 OBP against Burnett is comparable to Justin Morneau (.481), Joe Mauer (.478) and Ichiro Suzuki (.478).

On Tuesday, Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the game, the 13th time as a member of the Yankees that he’s ended a game by striking out. Tim Wakefield is on the mound Wednesday for the Red Sox, and the only player he’s struck out more than Rodriguez (20 times), is Jason Giambi (21).

Rodriguez also has hit seven home runs off Wakefield. One tonight would tie him for the most home runs he’s hit off one pitcher in his career. (Rodriguez has eight career HR against Ramon Ortiz, David Wells and teammate Bartolo Colon.)

If Rodriguez -- or any other Yankee -- strikes out against Wakefield, don’t expect it to be on a “fastball.” Batters have swung at 11 of Wakefield’s 33 fastballs this season and have made contact each time.

Also, expect a right-handed dominant lineup for the Yankees. Left-handed batters are hitting .179 (12-67) this season against Wakefield. Righties are hitting .289 (28-97), and all six of Wakefield’s home runs this season have been hit by right-handed batters.

As for Derek Jeter, he’s 12 hits from 3,000. He's a career .287 hitter against Wakefield (31-108), but is hitless in his last nine at-bats against the knuckleballer. His last hit was a single on Aug. 26, 2008

The Yankees have relied heavily on home runs to score this season. Almost 50 percent (49.5) of their runs have been scored off home runs, by far the highest percentage in the league. The Brewers are second at 39.3. Why is this important? Of the last 10 teams (2001-10) to lead the league in this statistic, only two made the playoffs (2008 Chicago White Sox, 2009 Philadelphia Phillies) and neither won the World Series.

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