Sox look to keep rolling vs. Yanks

Sox look to keep rolling vs. Yanks

Manny Ramirez walked through the Red Sox clubhouse on Friday, his strings of red hair dangling and his batting practice jacket flapping. He yelled across the room to Wily Mo Pena. The two were headed to the field to take some pregame hacks.

"Hey man, what's up?" he said to a security guard with a smile.

Ramirez is home again in New York, where he grew up and attended high school -- maybe just in time to break the invisible lock that has stunted his bat's productivity early this season.

Sure enough, in his first at-bat this season at Yankee Stadium -- where, coming into the series, Ramirez owned a .313 batting average with 24 homers and 67 RBIs -- he ripped a single into center field. It came at a good time for Ramirez, who after Friday's win said he's happy to be hitting in the Bronx. Now he's ready for Game 2 of the second stanza of baseball's greatest rivalry.

Ramirez had run into some bad fortune in Baltimore. Gusts of wind knocked down what would have been a homer but instead became an out. Still, manager Terry Francona said the numbers he's used to seeing from Ramirez will come.

"He's just too good a hitter," Francona said. "He's run into a little bit of bad luck."

Francona has said it at least five times -- Ramirez will figure out his problems at the plate. Meanwhile, regardless of entering this series with a .192 batting average, Ramirez is never counted as a sure out.

"Even when he's struggling, I bet if you ask other pitchers, they're not excited to see him up there," Francona said.

Tim Wakefield (2-2, 2.08 ERA) will take the mound Saturday. He is tied for second in the league with four quality starts. That is quite a contrast when compared with how the Yankees' starters have performed thus far.

But the Red Sox, sitting atop the American League East with a record of 15-7, won't hold anything back against the Yankees, despite New York's early-season pitching shortcomings.

Yankees Coverage
Jeter's late homer lifts Yanks
Yanks gear up for lesser opponents
Chamberlain springs curve on Sox
Notes: Peace of mind for Posada

Red Sox Coverage
Schilling's gem ends with loss
Bauman: Game mirrors Classic duel
Sox don't take lead for granted
Notes: Matsuzaka pushed back
Season Series
Yankees win 10-8
• 9/16: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3
• 9/15: Red Sox 10,Yankees 1
• 9/14: Yankees 8, Red Sox 7
Previous season series
2006: Yankees 11, Red Sox 8
2005: Yankees 10, Red Sox 9
2004: Red Sox 11, Yankees 8

Having been with the Red Sox when Boston erased a 3-0 deficit and beat the Yankees in the 2004 AL Championship Series, Francona knows his team needs to focus on the hour, the minute and the moment at hand.

"We've preached so much about staying in the moment and trying to win tonight," he said. "And that's what we do. So I can't honestly tell you that I looked up this morning at the paper and said, 'Oh boy, [the Yankees'] record is this -- what a surprise.'"

Dustin Pedroia, who entered the series struggling at the plate, batting just .184 with two RBIs, has excelled defensively as of late. Francona pointed out how, earlier this season, Pedroia walked over to shortstop Julio Lugo with runners on base to double-check their defensive assignments.

"This is a young kid who did this," Francona said. "That's impressive. He understands how to play the game."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (2-2, 2.08 ERA)
Wakefield simply has been pitching well. Tied for sixth in the American League with a 2.08 ERA, the knuckleballer has allowed just 20 hits in 26 innings. He's holding opponents to a .204 average. But Wakefield dropped his second game on Monday vs. Toronto, allowing three runs in a 7-3 loss. He struck out five and walked two in his effort against the Blue Jays.

NYY: RHP Jeff Karstens (0-1, 14.54 ERA)
Karstens goes for the Yankees only a week removed from giving up seven runs in a loss to the Red Sox. The 24-year-old right-hander will be making just his second start of the season.

Player to watch
Derek Jeter must like the knuckleball. In 81 career at-bats against Wakefield, Jeter has three homers and eight RBIs to go along with a .321 batting average. The Yankees' captain had a strong start to this series, gathering three hits on Friday.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS-AM 880 AM, WQBU-FM 92.7 FM (Espanol)

Up next
• Sunday: Boston (RHP Julian Tavarez, 0-2, 8.36) at New York (RHP Chien-Ming Wang, 0-1, 5.68), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Oakland (RHP Joe Blanton, 2-1, 3.55) at Boston (RHP Curt Schilling, 3-1, 3.27), 7:05 p.m. ET

Caleb Breakey is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.