Saturday's contest features a terrific pitching matchup between two fireballers -- Josh Beckett for Boston and A.J. Burnett for New York.
Beckett and Burnett were teammates with the Marlins from 2001-05.
"He was a beauty," said Burnett. "He was a free-spirited little high school kid, and everybody told him he was the next Nolan Ryan, go figure. You can only think what he was like. But you always knew he had a good heart and knew he had fun. He grew up quick there, and he always heard how good he was and wanted to believe it. When he pitched that World Series game [to beat the Yankees in 2003], he really took in what everybody was saying and what he could really do. That's when he turned the page, I think."
Burnett's page has turned as well. He has also had the challenge of living up to so much promise, and he's started to do that the last couple of years. Now, he officially enters the rivalry with this start against his former teammate in Saturday's FOX Game of the Week.
Third baseman Mike Lowell also played on those Florida teams with Burnett, so he knows what Boston will be up against.
"We're going to have our hands full facing a guy like A.J.," said Lowell. "High-velocity guy -- really good curveball. But that doesn't mean he's unbeatable. It's going to be a good matchup between two good teams, and we know the fans are going to get revved up, because it's always a good atmosphere here."
NYY: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20 ERA)
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (2-1, 3.79 ERA)
Thanks to a five-game suspension, Beckett makes his start one day later than originally scheduled. The righty earned the win in his last outing, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) over six innings. Beckett walked four and struck out five in that one. He pitched better than the line indicated, as all of the runs were surrendered in one inning. Beckett hasn't given up a homer in his first three starts, and he has held opponents to a .229 batting average. In his career against the Yankees, Beckett is 7-4 with a 5.33 ERA.
Had Burnett not walked the bases loaded with one out in the seventh inning, he might have lasted a bit longer than he did against the Indians last Sunday. As it was, he threw 6 1/3 innings, the longest outing the Yankees had seen through nearly a full turn of their rotation. He walked seven and threw three wild pitches, but the Bombers hardly minded. They needed length, and Burnett gave them at least a measure of it. Next, he will face the Red Sox -- a team he has managed remarkably well against throughout his career -- for the first time since joining the Yankees. Burnett has produced a 5-0 record and a 2.56 ERA in eight career starts against the Sox.
Boston pitchers have given up just two home runs over its past nine games. ... Shortstop Nick Green has had three consecutive three-hit games and has five multihit games. ... Lowell has an eight-game hitting streak, during which he's hitting .455. ... The walk-off homer by Youkilis on Friday was the first game-ending long ball by the Red Sox against the Yankees since Bill Mueller's memorable shot against Mariano Rivera on July 24, 2004.
On the Internet
Official game notes
WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)
Sunday: Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 1-0, 3.18) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 2-0, 2.53), 8:05 p.m. ET
Monday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-1, 2.45) at Indians (Cliff Lee, 1-3, 5.25), 7:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Red Sox (Brad Penny, 2-0, 7.80) at Indians (Anthony Reyes, 1-0, 4.76), 7:05 p.m. ET