The New York Yankees host the Boston Red Sox in a three-game series this weekend. The Yankees enter the series with the best record in the American League (70-48), having taken three of four from the American League West-leading Texas Rangers. The Red Sox (58-61) enter 12.5 games out of first place and with their season on life support.
Which, despite the passions of the fan base and the always over-the-top media hype, begs a question. Can these really be 'rivalry' games when one team is really good and the other team is, seemingly, really bad?
The Yankees enter the weekend in firm control of the AL East despite playing without Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia.
The Red Sox enter the weekend 5-10 in August, and with players and management denying reports that Boston players have demanded the firing of unpopular manager Bobby Valentine.
"What is important for Red Sox fans to know is that ownership, players and all staff -- especially [manager] Bobby Valentine -- are determined to turn around what has thus far been an unacceptable, failed season," Red Sox principal owner John Henry said in an e-mail to Red Sox beat reporters on Wednesday. "We are all on the same page in that regard and will not waver."
Here are your pitching matchups for the weekend:
Friday: Phil Hughes, Yankees (11-10, 4.44 ERA) vs. Franklin Morales (3-3, 3.29)
Saturday: David Phelps, Yankees (3-3, 2.53) vs. Jon Lester (6-10, 5.20)
Sunday: Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees (11-8, 3.06) vs. Josh Beckett (5-10, 5.19)
Friday Game Time: 7:05 p.m. ET
Television: MY9, MLB Network, NESN
NOTES: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has a 12-game hitting streak during which he is batting .375. Jeter is hitting .320 overall ... Boston's Dustin Pedroia has an 11-game hitting streak ... Ichiro Suzuki has hit safely in 19 of 20 games he has started with the Yankees and has a .312 batting average since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners.