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Eleven years after first World Series triumph, John Lackey in position to make history 10.30.13 at 12:11 pm ET
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When the Red Sox signed John Lackey after the 2009 season, the team imagined a scenario in which it had a postseason-tested rotation like none other. At the time, with Lackey, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on their roster — three different pitchers who had earned the victory in a World Series-clinching contest prior to their 25th birthdays — the team could claim an unmatched ensemble of pitchers who had contributed to October triumph.

It took a long time for either the Sox or Lackey to be in position for such a vision to come to fruition, with the team changing in numerous ways since his signing (including the departure of Beckett). But now, in Lackey’s fourth season in Boston, 11 years and two days removed from his winning performance over the Giants in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, Lackey has an opportunity to once again play a pivotal role in a potential clincher, just as he did in permitting one run in five innings in Game 7 as a 24-year-old. The right-hander will get the ball for Game 6 on Wednesday night, with an opportunity to pitch his team to a title.

Lackey, however, is hardly playing highlights of the 2002 World Series on loop.

“I was a rookie. We had a pretty veteran team’€¦ Our bullpen was probably our main strength on that team. I was trying to get five or six innings and turn it over to those guys.  My job was just basically not to screw it up,” Lackey recounted on Tuesday. “That was a long time ago, man. I don’t think that’s going to play much into [Game 6]. I think most of those guys in that game aren’t even playing anymore.”

Indeed, of the 28 other players in that Game 7, only one (Francisco Rodriguez) played in the big leagues this year. That, in turn, underscores the rarity of what Lackey is trying to accomplish. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Andy Pettitte 09.06.13 at 9:28 am ET
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Following Thursday’s dramatic series opener in which the Red Sox captured a 9-8 victory in 10 innings, the Sox and Yankees will face off again Friday night, with Felix Doubront taking the mound for the Sox opposite fellow southpaw Andy Pettitte.

Doubront (10-6, 3.89 ERA) will be looking for redemption after putting forth arguably his worst performance of the year against New York (and Pettitte) on Aug. 16, as he lasted only four innings, surrendering seven runs and eight hits in a 10-3 Boston loss.

Doubront rebounded in his next two starts, earning wins against both the Giants and Orioles, allowing only three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings.

In his last start, Doubront put together a subpar performance against the White Sox on Sunday, as he only pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed four earned runs and seven hits. At 90 pitches in the fourth inning, Doubront was forced out of the game early in what was an eventual 7-6 Red Sox victory.

“I have no words. For myself, I’m moving forward,” Doubront said after the game. “Moving forward and looking toward the next start. Like I always say, this game is over. This game is in the past.

In his career against New York, Doubront is 3-2 with a 3.33 ERA in seven starts. His last start against the Yankees bloated Doubront’s numbers against them, as he only allowed 11 earned runs in 42 innings in his previous appearances against New York.

Now in his 14th year with New York, the 41-year-old Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA) has once again put together a solid season, and has stepped up his play in a major way over the last month.

After allowing seven earned runs over just 2 2/3 innings against the White Sox on Aug. 5, the veteran has been magnificent, only allowing four earned runs over his last 30 innings. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they ran into Pettitte during this great stretch, as he didn’t allow any earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in that Aug. 16 game.

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Read More: Andy Pettitte, felix doubront, Red Sox, Yankees
Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jake Peavy vs. Ivan Nova 09.05.13 at 10:24 am ET
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For the first time as a member of the Red Sox, Jake Peavy will make his mark on the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry when he faces off vs. Ivan Nova on Thursday in the opening game of a pivotal four-game series with New York.

Peavy’€™s met every expectation thrown at him ever since the Red Sox acquired him from the White Sox at the trade deadline.

Since joining Boston, Peavy owns a 3.18 ERA and a .958 WHIP in 39 2/3 innings. He’€™s allowed less than three runs in five of his six starts with the Red Sox, including a complete-game victory against the Dodgers two starts ago.

Peavy followed up his gem in Los Angeles with another solid performance in his latest outing. Peavy defeated his former team at Fenway Park on Saturday. The righty lasted seven innings, allowing five hits, two runs and one walk with four strikeouts.

‘€œHe’€™s been everything we could’€™ve hoped for since coming over here,’€ manager John Farrell said after Saturday’s game. ‘€œHe’€™s worked deep in games. He’€™s thrown a lot of strikes. He’€™s made some big pitches in key moments when he’€™s needed to. Even when he’€™s got some traffic on the basepaths, he finds a way to minimize the overall damage.’€

The last time Peavy faced New York was in July of 2012. He took the loss despite striking out 11 Yankees.

Opposing Peavy on the mound for the Yankees will be Nova, who has gone from a disaster nearly every time he took the mound in 2012 to one of New York’s most reliable starters this season.

Nova posted a 5.02 ERA last season, this coming a year removed from a solid rookie campaign that placed him fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.

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Read More: Andy Pettitte, C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova
Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Andy Pettitte 08.16.13 at 9:20 am ET
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Felix Doubront is fresh off one of his worst starts of the year, but when he gets the ball Friday night at Fenway Park, there may be no other team he’€™d rather see than the one in the visitors’€™ dugout: the Yankees.

The 25-year-old southpaw, who has been a model of consistency in his second full season as a big leaguer, has found much success against the Sox’€™ biggest rival. In 10 games (six starts) against New York since 2010, Doubront owns a 2.36 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 42 innings. Each of those six starts has lasted at least six innings, and none of his 10 appearances has resulted in more than two runs for the Yankees.

That success has continued this year. In two starts ‘€” June 1 and July 19 ‘€” he went a total of 12 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs on nine hits and six walks. Doubront also struck out 11 en route to a pair of Red Sox wins.

On the season, Doubront (8-5) has a 3.66 ERA, second-best among the team’€™s five current starters behind only John Lackey‘€™s 3.32 mark, and a 1.41 WHIP to go with his 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Doubront saw his hot stretch ‘€” 2.09 ERA and .227/.290/.319 opponents’€™ slash line in five starts over the course of a month ‘€” come to a screeching halt his last time out. In an eventual 5-3 win over the Royals Saturday, he lasted only four innings while giving up three runs on six hits and four walks. He also struck out three.

The first four innings were actually scoreless, as Doubront stranded all six Kansas City baserunners, but the floodgates opened in the fifth. The first four Royals reached, with three of them coming around to score before Doubront exited in favor of Brandon Workman without recording an out. It was just the third time this season he failed to make it through five full innings.

‘€œYou’€™d like not to go to the bullpen in the fifth or sixth,’€ Farrell said afterward, ‘€œbut you do what the game calls for.’€

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Student beats the master? Felix Doubront inspires visions of Andy Pettitte in beating him 07.20.13 at 12:34 am ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves predicted an exciting second half of the season from southpaw Felix Doubront. And so far, he is right.

Doubront turned in another strong outing Friday night against the Yankees at Fenway Park, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out five, leading the Red Sox to a 4-2 win.

The left-hander’s success against the Pinstripes should come as no surprise. Coming into Friday’s game, in nine career appearances (five starts), Doubront was 2-1, including a save and a 2.52 ERA. With the win on Friday night, Doubront is now 2-0 against the rival Yankees in 2013; in six career starts (all since the start of last year), he has a 2.17 ERA.

In each of those six starts, Doubront has delivered a quality start, holding the Yankees to three or fewer runs while pitching at least six innings. The last Red Sox to turn in quality starts in each of his first half-dozen outings against New York? That would be Dutch Leonard, who reeled off nine straight quality starts against the Yankees at the start of his career — from 1913 to 1915.

Manager John Farrell was pleased with another strong Doubront performance in the series opener. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Andy Pettitte 07.19.13 at 8:35 am ET
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When Felix Doubront and the Red Sox open up the second half of their 2013 campaign against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday night, the first of 10 straight AL East contests, they will face a familiar foe: left-hander Andy Pettitte.

Doubront (6-3, 3.91 ERA), also a southpaw, is in the midst of his best stretch as a major leaguer, a 2.54 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and .224 opponents batting average in his last eight starts since the beginning of June.

It hasn’€™t been since May 8 ‘€” when Doubront was passed over for his turn in the rotation but gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings of relief ‘€” that he has given up more than three earned runs in an outing.

The trend continued in a big way Doubront’€™s last time out when he dominated the Mariners in a 11-4 Red Sox win July 10. In seven innings, he yielded just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six, a performance that drew more praise from manager John Farrell.

‘€œHe continues on a very strong roll,’€ Farrell told reporters after the game. ‘€œI think over the last 11 starts, I know it’€™s been quality outings for him, but really over the last three or four the overall command continues to remain consistent, continues to be sharp.’€

Doubront credited some of the success to the Red Sox jumping out to an early lead, 2-0 after two innings and 4-0 after three.

‘€œThose runs make me more comfortable to throw the changeup right there, [in a] fastball count,’€ Doubront said afterward. ‘€œJust go ahead and throw the changeup and keep them off balance. Inning by inning, I was feeling really good.’€

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Read More: Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, felix doubront, John Farrell
Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Andy Pettitte 04.04.13 at 9:34 am ET
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Red Sox fans will get their first regular-season look at Ryan Dempster when he takes the mound Thursday in the last game of the Sox’ series against the Yankees. Andy Pettitte will start for the Yankees.

Between the Cubs and Rangers last year, Dempster put up a 3.38 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He started the year well, but after being traded to the Rangers, his numbers fell off somewhat. His strikeouts increased, but so did his walks, and he allowed a career-high 1.30 homers per nine innings.

However, Dempster’s struggles in Texas were relatively out of character, and the Sox expect him to be more like the player he was in Chicago: a solid, mid-rotation pitcher, averaging around 200 consistent innings a year. In 21 2/3 spring innings, he finished with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

As a National Leaguer for most of his career, Dempster hasn’t seen a lot of the Yankees (before the Cubs, he pitched for the Marlins and Reds). The Red Sox are a bit more familiar with Pettitte, who’s faced them 39 times over his 17-year career, going 18-10. His career WHIP against Boston is an ugly 1.46, though, and he’s struggled especially since 2007 against the Sox.

This year in spring training, Pettitte put up a 3.52 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 15 1/3 innings. He struck out 14 and walked four.

Pettitte didn’t pitch against the Sox at all last year. The last time he did was Oct. 2, 2010, a 6-5 Yankees win. Pettitte left that game after just four innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs, though he struck out eight. The only Boston player who played in that game and still is on the active roster is Daniel Nava.

In Dempster’s last start against the Yankees, on Aug. 13 of last season, he went six innings and gave up nine hits and eight earned runs. That, of course, was a very different Yankees team, featuring Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, none of whom will be on the field Thursday.

The best Yankees hitter left in the lineup, Robinson Cano, has only faced Dempster six times, with a double and an RBI. Jacoby Ellsbury has had some success in 24 plate appearances against Pettitte, with a .400/.455/.450 line and 6 RBIs.

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Hot Stove: Yankees reportedly close to deals with Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera 11.27.12 at 10:50 am ET
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According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Yankees are nearing a one-year deal with left-hander Andy Pettitte that would pay the left-hander roughly $11 million in 2013. Pettitte, 40, made 12 starts last year after sitting out the 2011 season. He went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA along with 69 strikeouts and 21 walks in 75 1/3 innings. He also made a pair of postseason starts, going 0-1 with a 3.29 ERA while making one start in the ALDS against the Orioles and one in the ALCS against the Yankees.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter), New York is also close to a one-year deal with Mariano Rivera that would pay their longtime closer — who missed most of 2012 after blowing out his ACL — more than what they are paying Pettitte. Rivera pitched in just nine games in 2012 before suffering his season-ending injury, which broke a streak of nine straight years with at least 60 innings pitched and 17 consecutive seasons of 40 or more innings.

If accurate, Pettitte and Rivera would join Hiroki Kuroda as veterans with track records of success with the Yankees who have re-signed for one-year deals. That structure suits New York’s desire to avoid long-term commitments that would limit the club’s ability to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014.

Read More: 2012 Hot Stove, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
Peter Gammons on M&M: All-Star Game ‘Tough thing to overcome’ 07.14.11 at 1:46 pm ET
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MLB and NESN analyst Peter Gammons joined the Mut & Merloni show Thursday to talk about the Roger Clemens mistrial, the All-Star Game and the latest with the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

‘€œThey are worrying more about steroids than they are about drunk drivers killing people,” Gammons said about the government and the Clemens trial. “It’€™s our tax dollars at work.’€

He said he is surprised with Thursday’s developments that the trial has been declared a mistrial.

‘€œI think it was a major surprise,” Gammons said. “A friend of mine who had been covering it, sent me an email saying the prosecution just blew its self up. They did a terrible job with it. It’s amazing. Rusty Hardin didn’€™t even need to pull the guns out, he was ready to go after Andy Pettitte and all sorts of people.’€

Added Gammons: “A lot of people seeing Clemens and [Barry] Bonds get hung on all this, but just go, ‘All right, enough is enough, let’s move on.’ I sense that they had done that in San Francisco. I thought this trial would be a salacious and vicious trial. The fact that they were bringing Pettitte into it and the fact the prosecutors screwed it up on day one. You would laugh if they didn’t realize how much money they spent on this.”

Gammons also discussed the All-Star Game and how many people within the game were upset with players leaving the game early, or not showing up at all.

‘€œIt was bad for the game,” Gammons said. “I know the commissioner’€™s office was pretty upset with the way all this went down. So many players were out of there by the eighth inning and on their planes going home. I think most people, I know Bud [Selig]  is upset about it and he should be, were left with the impression it doesn’€™t really matter.

“That is a tough thing for baseball to overcome. I am told that there were some words between the commissioner’s office and the players association, that the players association is supposed to think everybody was hurt, but at the same time it did have that impression of, ‘€˜OK, lets get this over with and see what happens.’€™ ‘€

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Read More: Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Jonathan Papelbon
Remembering the Red Sox’ pursuit of Andy Pettitte 02.04.11 at 6:11 pm ET
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It was an offer that could have changed history.

It was weeks removed from the 2003 postseason, and the Red Sox were trying to recover from the crushing end of their 2003 season. That the Yankees had lost to the Marlins in the World Series was little consolation to a Sox team that had come within five agonizing outs of finally escaping the yoke of their divisional oppressors, only to suffer an infamous defeat in Game 7 of the ALCS that would soon lead to the firing of Grady Little and an effort to bolster the Sox roster for the following year.

Andy Pettitte had played a part in the Sox’ demise that postseason. The left-hander, as part of a spectacular postseason in which he went 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in five starts, had shut down the Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS, helping to restore order for the Yankees after the Sox had won Game 1. Though Pettitte claimed a no-decision in Game 6 of the series (a Sox win), the 31-year-old had established himself as one of the most important members of the Yankees, and one of the best southpaws in the game.

Pettitte was a free agent at an opportune moment. He had gone 21-8, made all his starts (33), achieved a 4.08 ERA while punching out a career-high 180 and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young race. The Yankees wanted to retain him, but the Red Sox were desperate to find a front-of-the-rotation complement to help them make a run at the Yankees. Read the rest of this entry »

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