After they evened the series to move back into a first-place tie with the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox have a very good chance to regain sole possession of the AL East lead with Josh Beckett on the mound in the finale.
Most offshore sports books monitored by SportsOptions opened the Red Sox as $1.60 home favorites, with the total set at nine ‘over’ (minus $1.20).
Beckett tries for a fourth victory in as many starts this season against the Yankees, who hope Freddy Garcia can turn things around against the Red Sox and win his fourth consecutive start Sunday night at Fenway Park.
With identical 69-43 records, the top two teams in the AL are appropriately back where they started coming into the set.
New York snapped a seven-game skid to Boston with a 3-2 win Friday to knock the Red Sox out of first place for the first time in almost a month. Boston, however, ended the Yankees’ eight-game overall winning streak by once again getting the best of CC Sabathia in a 10-4 victory Saturday.
Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run homer and drove in a career-high six runs to help Boston improve to 9-2 against New York this season.
“It’s a good ballclub. They have a good lineup,” said Sabathia, 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Red Sox in 2011. “They wear on you.”
Ellsbury was worn on the Yankees this season, batting .381 (16 for 42) with two homers and 13 RBIs. The All-Star center fielder has hit .379 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in his last 32 games overall.
Teammate Carl Crawford had four hits Saturday, giving him hits in six straight plate appearances. He’s 9 for 17 in his last four games versus New York.
Boston’s chances of sitting alone atop the division would seem great if Beckett (9-4, 2.20 ERA) continues his recent dominance of New York.
The right-hander has allowed two runs and 10 hits in 21 innings with 25 strikeouts while going 3-0 against the Yankees this season. In the lone outing at Fenway on April 10, Beckett allowed two hits and fanned 10 over eight innings of a 4-0 win on a Sunday night to prevent the Red Sox from falling to 1-8.
“I think probably the biggest thing is he’s healthy,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told his team’s official website. “His velocity is back. I think his curveball has been outstanding.”
Though Beckett is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA in his last two starts overall, he allowed just two solo homers in six innings Tuesday to help the Red Sox beat Cleveland 3-2.
While Beckett has been stellar against the Yankees, Garcia (10-7, 3.22) has allowed nine runs in seven innings while losing both starts versus Boston in 2011. He gave up four runs, including a homer to Ellsbury, in 1 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on June 7.
“They’ve hit him pretty good,” Girardi said. “Freddy’s been pretty consistent. Those are his starts that weren’t.”
Garcia has been on his game of late, posting a 2.21 ERA while winning three straight starts. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-2 win over Baltimore last Sunday.
New York slugger Mark Teixeira hit his 32nd homer Saturday for his only hit in seven at-bats in the series. He’s 5 for 40 with four RBIs this season versus Boston, and 7 for 41 with two home runs and 17 strikeouts against Beckett.