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Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 8/6

08.06.10 at 2:32 pm ET

After the Red Sox managed to scrape together a split of a four-game home series against the lowly Indians, it doesn’€™t get any easier as they start another four-game set with the rival Yankees, who enter Friday’€™s game leading the AL East by a half-game over the Rays. The two teams haven’€™t faced each other since May 18, a 7-6 Red Sox win. The Yankees lead the eight-game season series 5-3 and haven’€™t suffered back-to-back losses to the Red Sox all season. The Sox may need to put back-to-back-to-back-to-back wins, in other words a sweep, if they want to play their way back into the middle of the conversation for both the division and the wild card races. Clay Buchholz will try to get the team started on the right foot Thursday when he takes the starting mound against New York’€™s Javier Vazquez.

Buchholz (11-5, 2.59 ERA) might have taken over the title of best Red Sox pitcher this season given Jon Lester‘€™s recent struggles. He’€™s second only to Cliff Lee‘€™s 2.51 ERA in the American League in that category. His 11 wins are good for sixth. However since he suffered a hamstring injury before the All-Star break, Buchholz hasn’€™t been quite as dominant. In the three games since returning to the rotation, he has a 1-1 record with a 3.32 ERA, solid numbers for sure but a little lackluster when compared to his whole body of work this season. However, batters are hitting just .183 in that time. When Buchholz takes the mound Thursday, he’€™ll do it on the road where his ERA (2.36) is surprisingly nearly half a run better than at home (2.81). That may be good news, but the opponent isn’€™t nearly as much. Buchholz has struggled against the men in pinstripes in the past, going 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts.

Despite Buchholz’€™s checkered past against the Yankees, no one would question that the Red Sox have the upper hand in Thursday’€™s pitching matchup. Vazquez (9-7, 4.61 ERA) simply has not lived up to expectations since the Yankees got him from the Braves in the offseason. He started the season 1-4 with a 8.10 ERA in his first six starts, earning a demotion to bullpen duty in mid-May. It was then that he made his only appearance against the Red Sox this season as he struck out Kevin Youkilis in the ninth inning in his only relief appearance of the season on May 17. (He actually received the win in that game after Jonathan Papelbon blew a 9-7 lead in the ninth.) Since then he has calmed down some, going 7-3 with a 3.36 in 13 starts. However, don’€™t expect Vazquez to stay in the game for too long; he hasn’€™t pitched more than seven innings in any outing this season.

The Red Sox will have the chance to knock out Vazquez even earlier than that, and they’€™ve shown in the past that they can hit well against the righty. Mike Lowell, Adrian Beltre, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz have all hit two or more home runs against Vazquez with Drew leading that group with four. Meanwhile, Victor Martinez could be the weak link in the lineup Thursday as he’€™s hit just .192 against Vazquez in 27 career at-bats.

On the other side, the Yankees have a decent amount of experience against Buchholz with Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter all hitting above .300 against him. Some have struggled though as Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson and Jorge Posada have all never managed a hit against the righty in 20 combined at-bats.

Red Sox vs. Javier Vazquez

Mike Lowell (49 career plate appearances against Vazquez): .277 average/.306 OBP/.511 slugging, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 doubles, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (35): .441/.457/.706, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 doubles, 4 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (32): .357/.438/.857, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (30): .192/.267/.269, 4 RBI, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (29): .320/.414/.640, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (7): .000/.143/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Eric Patterson (7): .200/.429/.800, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Marco Scutaro (7): .000/.143/.000, 1 walk

Bill Hall (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Kevin Cash and Darnell McDonald have not faced the New York starter.

Yankees vs. Clay Buchholz

Robinson Cano (11 career plate appearances against Buchholz): .364 average/.364 OBP/.455 slugging, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Alex Rodriguez (11): .333/.455/.667, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Derek Jeter (10): .333/.400/.333, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Nick Swisher (8): .000/.429/.000, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Curtis Granderson (7): .000/.286/.000, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (6): .600/.667/1.200, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jorge Posada (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk

Francisco Cervelli (3):  .667/.667/.667, 3 RBI

Austin Kearns is 0-for-3 against Buchholz in his career while Brett Gardner and Ramiro Pena are both 1-for-2 with Gardner’€™s only hit being a double. Lance Berkman and Marcus Thames have never faced the Boston starter.

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