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Red Sox vs. Yankees Preview 9/25

09.25.09 at 2:30 pm ET
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Contrary to popular belief, it is still September. Yet, when Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33 ERA) takes the mound in front of a packed crowd at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx tonight, the atmosphere will more than likely carry with it a potential preview of what could be the 2009 ALCS.

After splitting a four-game set with the Kansas City Royals with last night’s 10-3 victory, the Red Sox (91-61) conclude their final road trip of the regular season with a three-game match-up against their arch-rivals the New York Yankees (97-56).

In the win splitting the series with the Royals, Clay Buchholz hurled 6 2/3 scoreless innings and David Ortiz slammed his second home run in as many games to give the Sox a .500 record on the road this year at 39-39. Victor Martinez extended his career-best hit streak to 23 games while Dustin Pedroia added to his 16 game streak as the Red Sox pounded the Kansas City’s pitching with 15 total hits.

Trailing 5 1/2 games behind New York for the AL East division lead, the Sox trimmed their magic number to clinch the Wild Card to three after the Texas Rangers dropped a 12-3 contest to the Oakland Athletics yesterday afternoon.

With the playoffs looming in the not-so-distant future, Lester enters the game having won his last four starts and five of his last six decisions. Since the All-Star break, Lester has been near perfect compiling a 6-1 record with a slim 2.57 ERA in 12 starts.

Against the Yankees this season, Lester has fared particular well. In his three starts opposing the Bombers, Lester owns a 1-0 record sporting a 2.70 ERA. Away from Fenway, the hard-throwing ace has also had his share of success going 8-4 with a 3.53 in 17 outings.

On the other side of the diamond, the Yankees decided not to skip over the right-handed Joba Chamberlain (8-6, 4.72), allowing him to accumulate a handful of innings every start despite cautiously keeping an eye his pitch count. In his last few appearances, however, the Yankees did not have to worry much about monitoring Chamberlain due to his inability deliver quality innings.

Chamberlain, who just turned 25 on Wednesday, has yet to win a decision since August 6. In that start against the Red Sox, the Nebraska native surrendered 4 runs and 7 walks in six innings, yet skated away with the victory in part to the ineffectiveness of John Smoltz and 13 runs of support from his offense.

While Lester continues to make a case to be named the Game 1 starter in the ALDS for the Red Sox, Joba is currently fighting for a spot in the playoff rotation. In his last eight outings since picking up the victory against the Red Sox, Chamberlain has struggled mightily going 0-4 with a whomping 8.42 ERA. Making three starts against the Red Sox this season, Chamberlain has had his troubles as well with a 1-1 record and a less-than-mediocre 5.06 ERA.

Jon Lester versus Yankees’ batters

Johnny Damon (24 career plate appearances) .318 AVG/.375 OBP/.591 SLG, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (24) .348/.375/.348, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (20) .150/.150/.200, 4 strikeouts

Nick Swisher (18) .143/.278/.429, 1 home run, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Melky Cabrera (17) .375/.412/.438, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Alex Rodriguez (15) .143/.200/.429, 1 home run, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Jose Molina (13) .455/.538/.455, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Jorge Posada (12) .273/.333/.273, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (12) .250/.250/.500, 1 home run, 3 strikeouts

Jerry Hairston Jr. (4) 1-for-3

Eric Hinske (3) 0-for-3

Hideki Matsui (3) 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts

Joba Chamberlain versus Red Sox batters

J.D. Drew (17 career plate appearances) .067 AVG/.176 OBP/.133 SLG, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (17) .467/.529/.733, 1 home run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (17) .533/.588/.933, 1 home run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (15) .143/.200/.143, 1 home run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

David Ortiz (15) .214/.267/.214, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (14) .286/.643/.286, 7 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jason Bay (9) .571/.667/1.143, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Victor Martinez (9) .400/.556/1.000, 1 home run, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (7) .200/.429/.200, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Nick Green (6) 2-for-6, 3 strikeouts

Casey Kotchman (6) 2-for-6, 1 home run, 1 strikeout

Joey Gathright (4) 0-for-4, 2 strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (4) 0-for-4, 2 strikeouts

Chris Woodward (3) 1-for-3, 1 strikeout

Rocco Baldelli (1) 0-for-1

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