The New York Yankees' final series before the All-Star break begins Friday, and it finds the Yankees in Fenway Park for four games against the arch-rival Boston Red Sox.Friday night the Yankees send veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.17 ERA) to the mound. Boston counters with Josh Beckett (4-7, 4.06 ERA). The game will be shown on YES and MLB Network at 7:10 p.m. ET.
These are two teams that have had vastly different seasons thus far. The Yankees are 49-32, leading the American League East by five games over the Baltimore Orioles. New York enters the weekend with the best record in baseball.
Boston has had a difficult season under new manager Bobby Valentine. The Red Sox are 42-40, tied for last in the AL East 7.5 games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox know they can't afford to lose more ground.
"I think we're excited," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "They're in first place and playing good ball. If we're going to do what we want to do, we're going to have to play well against them and beat them and sneak up in the standings."
Unfortunately for Boston, Pedroia appears headed to the disabled list with a thumb injury.
New York Yankees
@ Boston Red Sox
Friday, Jul 6, 2012, 7:10 PM EDT
Hiroki Kuroda vs Josh Beckett
Mostly clear. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 85.
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The Yankees simply want to continue playing well.
"They're before the break and you want to finish up strong," said Yankee manager Joe Girardi. "They're important games. We're going to see a lot of each other the next [three] days."
The teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Saturday to make up for an April rainout. Phil Hughes (9-6, 4.29) and Freddy Garcia (2-2, 5.94) will pitch for New York on Saturday. Franklin Morales (1-1, 2.51) and Felix Doubront (8-4, 4.42) will pitch for Boston.
Sunday, Ivan Nova (9-3, 4.05) of the Yankees faces Jon Lester 5-5, 4.33).
AL East Standings
-- See Pinstripe Alley for complete discussion and analysis