The Boston Red Sox cruised through the first half of the season and own the best record in the American League. The road gets tougher in the second half with an AL East-heavy slate that begins when the Red Sox host the New York Yankees in Friday’s opener of a three-game series at 7 p.m. The Yankees went into the All-Star break in fourth place but still have designs on taking the division.
New York has dealt with a slew of injuries that have sidelined three-fourths of their All-Star infield most of the season and got another scare Tuesday, when Robinson Cano was drilled just above the knee with a 96-mph fastball from Matt Harvey in the All-Star Game. X-rays came back negative and Cano is day-to-day. Boston is on pace to win 97 games but stumbled into the All-Star break with back-to-back losses and a 5-5 road trip on the west coast.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH Andy Pettitte (7-6, 4.39 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Felix Doubront (6-3, 3.91).
Pettitte has earned the win in each of his last two starts but has not completed seven innings since June 14. The veteran left-hander owns a 5.35 ERA in his last six starts and has surrendered 49 hits in 37 innings during that span. Pettitte’s best start of the season came against Boston on April 4, when he held the rival Red Sox to one run in a season-high eight innings.
Doubront has trended in the opposite direction lately, posting a 1.91 ERA while holding opponents to a .188 batting average in his last five starts. The Venezuelan lefty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of those five turns and went seven innings at Seattle to earn a win in his last start July 10. Doubront held the Yankees to one run in six innings to earn a win at New York on June 1.
NOTEBOOK: Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (neck) felt soreness during a bullpen session Sunday and long-tossed while on the field at the All-Star Game. He likely won’t return to the rotation until August. … Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (hip) is closer to major-league games but will miss the series in Boston. Rodriguez could join the team in Texas next week. … Boston DH David Ortiz and 2B Dustin Pedroia combined to go 0-for-4 in the AL’s All-Star Game win. Ortiz is 21-for-56 off Pettitte in his career while Pedroia is 9-for-42.