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Red Sox Vs. Yankees: Josh Beckett Takes The Mound As Sox Look For Series Win

The Red Sox will have Josh Beckett on the mound Sunday night as they look for a win against the New York Yankees that would be of special significance.

Not only would a win Sunday mean a series win for the Sox--the fourth straight to start the year--but it would also give the Sox a 10-2 record against the Yankees, securing the season series for Boston for the first time since 2004. It would also effectively give the Red Sox a 1.5 game lead in the division, since head-to-head record determines the division winner in cases where the second place team would win the wild card, as is likely to be the case in the A.L. East this year.

It seems only too appropriate, then, that it's rotation anchor Josh Beckett on the mound looking to seal the win for the Red Sox. And, of course, with Beckett comes Varitek. He'll join a lineup that--while already featuring three MVP candidates batting 1-2-3--is looking all-the-more-formidable after Carl Crawford's 4-for-4 performance Saturday.

Boston Red Sox (69-43)

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
  5. David Ortiz, DH
  6. Carl Crawford, LF
  7. Josh Reddick, RF
  8. Jason Varitek, C
  9. Marco Scutaro, SS

The Yankees will give Jorge Posada the night off, moving Eric Chavez into the DH spot while Eduardo Nunez takes over at third.

New York Yankees (69-43)

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Curtis Granderson, CF
  4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Eric Chavez, DH
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Pitching Matchup: Josh Beckett (9-4, 2.20 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (10-7, 3.22 ERA)

It was nearly four months ago that Josh Beckett announced his return to form against the New York Yankees, outlasting CC Sabathia's one good start against the Sox by putting up eight innings of shutout ball against the best lineup outside of Boston. He's not quite reached those heights against New York since, but he's certainly not had any trouble against them, twice more outmatching CC Sabathia, and allowing just two earned runs in thirteen additional innings of work. Beckett has been a bit vulnerable to the home run of late, which isn't the best sign against a team like the Yankees, but given his ability to keep men off the basepaths otherwise, they hopefully won't be doing too much damage.

Freddy Garcia can't be looking forward to facing Boston again.  In Garcia's three appearances against Boston this year--two of them starts--the veteran junk-baller has allowed ten runs (nine earned) in eight innings against the Sox, not even lasting into the third in his last outing. Against everyone else he's been impressive, but Boston has consistently managed to tee off on both his fastball and changeup. He's done rather better with the slider, but without the first two pitches available, it's hard to establish anything else. It could be another tough night out there for Garcia if he can't find a way to make his 87-MPH "heater" play.