Wells tries to take out former mates

Wells tries to take out former mates

No one could have realistically envisioned this. Even the most optimistic of New York fans could not have given thought to the Yankees coming into Boston and sweeping five games from the Red Sox. To discuss such an occurrence would have been a waste of breath.

After winning the first four games of the series in both laughable and heart-wrenching fashion, the Yankees have made what was once unthinkable in the forefront of everyone's minds.

"It tests our character," Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell said. "We gotta try and put that aside and realize we got 30-something games left in the season. Our season is not over. We can't lose focus on the big picture."

With a nauseous feeling circulating through New England, the Red Sox sit 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East and, in order to avoid further humiliation, will have to come back to Fenway Park and beat their rivals less then 12 hours after leaving in defeat.

"I love the makeup of the team," manager Terry Francona said. "I don't think anyone's very happy with what's transpired on the field. That doesn't mean you go from loving your team to hating your team. We just haven't won games that we desperately want to. I respect this team a lot. You try to take those feelings and turn it into better baseball as quick as you can ... or better outcomes."

Counting on a veteran in a situation that screams for experience, the Red Sox will call upon a man who dearly loved the Yankees to beat the Yankees. Forty-three-year-old southpaw David Wells will face right-hander Cory Lidle on Monday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Each team will then head out on West Coast road trips and they will not meet again until they square off in a four-game series at Yankee Stadium from Sept. 15-17.

"It's an emotional rollercoaster for us right now," closer Jonathan Papelbon said. "We gotta find a way to get things going our way. Hopefully, Boomer will come in here [Monday] and set the tone early and kinda get us going in a good direction. Obviously, we kinda wanted to get it down to one or two ballgames, but it's not over yet. There's a lot of season left. We're gonna keep scratching and clawing, and it's gonna come down to the last week of the season, I'm pretty sure."

Lidle will be returning to the team after taking four days of bereavement leave following the death of his grandmother and will be making his first appearance in the rivalry.

Wells is making his fifth start since returning from the disabled list on July 31. In his last three starts, Wells has gone at least six innings, allowing a combined six earned runs and winning his last two starts.

"Talk[ing] about stamina, I think he's good for 100-110 pitches, which is pretty good because for him that should be fairly deep in the game," Francona said. "He throws strikes and the game is not too quick for him. He should be OK."

In his last outing, Wells allowed four runs and 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Tigers. Wells was placed on the DL on May 27 after being hit on his right knee by a line drive, the same knee on which surgery was performed earlier in the year.

"I thought there was a chance. I think because he thought there was a chance," Francona said about Wells not returning. "I knew it was gonna be a little harder than what other people thought ... the trauma that's associated with getting whacked like that after you've had some problems. I had a feeling it was gonna be tough, [but] then he started kinda getting a whiff of coming back, and you could kinda tell that he wanted to. I've been proud of him the way he's gone about this. If he had gone home and retired, I think he could've and nobody would've said a word."

Wells is 19-10 with a 3.11 ERA against the Yankees. Wells spent four seasons with New York, compiling a record of 68-28 and earning a World Series ring in 1998.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Cory Lidle (9-9, 4.64 ERA)
Lidle allowed a run in each of his first three innings on Wednesday against the Orioles, but settled in after that, retiring the last 11 batters he faced. Lidle said he felt like he was finding his groove. He is 2-2 with a 6.58 ERA against the Red Sox in his career.

BOS: LHP David Wells (2-2, 6.06 ERA)
In their stretch run to the playoffs, the Red Sox need more consistency in their starting rotation from more than just Curt Schilling. Wells, 43, seems to be taking on the duty of providing stability and eating up innings for the overworked Boston bullpen. He has won his last two starts and pitched at least six innings in his last three contests.

Player to watch
Eric Hinske has three hits, including two home runs, in five career at-bats against Lidle.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Red Sox (LHP Kason Gabbard, 0-1, 3.38) at Angels (LHP Joe Saunders, 4-1, 3.64), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (LHP Jon Lester, 6-2, 4.72) at Angels (RHP Kelvim Escobar, 9-10, 3.77), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 13-8, 5.35) vs. Angels (RHP Jered Weaver, 9-0, 1.95), 10:05 p.m. ET

Howard Kussoy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.