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Red Sox Vs. Yankees Lineups: Sox Turn To Jon Lester For A Big Start

The Red Sox' rotation has been in terrible straits these past few weeks. While the return of Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard could still prove to be a major boon over the rest of the year (however long it should last), their first starts weren't terrible impressive, with Bedard coming derailed after Josh Reddick's error in right and Beckett fading down the stretch.

So Friday they turn to the man who has been there throughout, but who hasn't really come through in big places against the Rays. Jon Lester is in as much need of a big start as the Red Sox are, but to get one, he'll have to avoid the control issues and long at bats that have so troubled him in recent weeks.

It wouldn't hurt to have a good outing from the offense behind him. While the Sox did score 32 runs in four games against the Orioles, more than half of them came in just one game. In fact, during their lengthy collapse the Sox have scored between more than ten runs five different times, and never more than five in any other game.

The biggest curiosity in Friday's lineup is Mike Aviles, who will bat fifth. The third baseman has earned his spot, however, with 10 hits (including a pair of homers) over the last week of games. If he can keep it up, he could be one very valuable surprise for the Red Sox in this past week and, conditionally, into the playoffs.

Boston Red Sox (88-68)

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

So far the Yankees are planning to play a regular lineup. But with rain in the forecast, it wouldn't be surprising to see Joe Girardi make some late changes.

New York Yankees (95-61)

  1. Derek Jeter, SS
  2. Curtis Granderson, CF
  3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Robinson Cano, 2B
  6. Nick Swisher, RF
  7. Andruw Jones, LF
  8. Jesus Montero, DH
  9. Russell Martin, C

Pitching Matchup: Jon Lester (15-8, 3.15 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (11-8, 3.77 ERA)

One thing Jon Lester is missing in a pretty impressive overall season this year is a big start against the Yankees. What's worse, he's had difficulties in the same way that he's had them of late, giving up 12 free passes in four starts, none lasting more than six innings. If he can find the zone--or get a favorably wide one--then he could be home free. If not, then it's more bullpen fun for a Red Sox team not terribly well equipped for late game scenarios of late.

The best news is that there haven't been many pitchers worse against the Sox than Freddy Garcia. He hasn't even made it through the end of the sixth against Boston in three starts, and was once chased in the second with seven baserunners allowed. The Sox hammer his junkballs when they're in the zone, and take them when they're not. He just hasn't confused them much at all.