Twelve years and 11 Yankees division titles later, the Red Sox have a rare opportunity: to bury New York in late May. Or, to keep them down before the teams collide again on June 1.On Sunday night, the Red Sox avoided the notion of an early exit for the Bronx Bombers. Captain Jason Varitek said Boston was "not looking at the standings." "Right now, it's still May," infielder Kevin Youkilis said. "You can't just play two months. It would be great if the season ended today, and we were the first-place team." Closer Jonathan Papelbon went to great lengths to downplay the Yankees' struggles.
"They've got a little makeup work to do," Papelbon said. "And it's nothing they haven't done before. We're just going to go there with a business approach like we always do, and go ahead and try to take care of business.""It's very boring for everybody," infielder Alex Cora said. "But that's the way we do it." With that, the Red Sox filed out of the clubhouse for a late-night journey to the Bronx, carrying themselves -- and baseball's best record -- with quiet confidence. "We can't worry about anyone," third baseman Mike Lowell said. "We're playing too good baseball right now. They're the ones that need to worry. They're the ones that have got to worry." Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (4-4, 2.41 ERA)
Wakefield served up two home runs to the Tigers in his last start on Tuesday, but he displayed the same effective knuckler that has earned him the staff's best ERA. The Red Sox pushed back his scheduled start against Atlanta to give him the ball in the series opener against the Yankees. Wakefield allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Bombers on April 28, walking six. In his career, Wakefield has a 4.61 ERA and a .232 opponents' batting average against New York, suggesting that the Yankees are a lot more successful at taking his knuckler than hitting it. NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-3, 4.54 ERA)
Wang will be making his sixth start of the season, his eighth career start against the Red Sox and his second of the year. Wang's last start came in the second game of a doubleheader on Wednesday at Chicago, where he recorded the win in an 8-1 Yankees victory.
Player to watch
Youkilis continued a torrid May on Sunday, extending his 13-game hitting streak with a single in the first and clubbing his sixth home run.
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Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 2-4, 5.59) at Yankees (RHP Mike Mussina, 2-2, 5.64), 7:05 p.m. ET
Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 4-1, 3.57) at Yankees (LHP Andy Pettitte, 2-3, 2.83), 7:05 p.m. ET
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.