Sox's streak on Masterson's shoulders

Sox's streak on Masterson's shoulders

They are torrid at the moment, these Red Sox. And a win on Sunday night against the Yankees would give Boston not just a three-game sweep against its longtime rivals, but also a 10-game winning streak and a perfect (9-0) homestand.

As it is, the nine-game streak is the longest April run in Red Sox history. If Boston can push it to 10, it would mark the club's first double-digit succession of victories since a 12-game surge from June 16-29, 2006.

"We wanted to come home and play well," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "We'd be lying if we said we thought we'd play this well. It's kind of what we're capable of. It's nice to get here and play better baseball. The days we don't pitch, we're hitting. The days we don't hit, we're pitching."

The man entrusted to keep a good thing going is Justin Masterson, the 24-year-old swing man who is occupying the rotation slot of disabled right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Masterson made a seamless transition back to starting in his first start in Dice-K's spot, firing off 5 1/3 impressive innings in a win over the Orioles.

Now it is the Yankees on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball for Masterson.

"It will be neat," said Masterson. "I think it will be real good for family and friends around the nation to get a chance to watch me on TV actually rather than having to go to the sports bar. They can actually sit back and watch it on ESPN."

The one thing that has been clear in Masterson's first two seasons with the Red Sox is that he never gets intimidated by the stage.

"I wouldn't put much more pressure on me," Masterson said. "I thought about it earlier. It's the Yankees, and if I get caught up in that, I might lose track of what I need to do. I need to hit my spots, make my pitches and get guys out."

While Masterson seems stronger this season -- he was clocked at 96 mph in his last start -- he also has more confidence.

"I feel more assured of myself and who I am, and I feel like I'm understanding my mechanics, like, what makes me good," said Masterson. "I think I'm understanding that better. I'm not overthinking."

As for the man Masterson will be opposed by, the Red Sox are all too familiar with Andy Pettitte. This will be the left-hander's 33rd career appearance against Boston, and his 31st start. Pettitte is 16-8 with a 2.74 ERA lifetime against the Sox.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
The lanky right-hander needed no adjustment time in his return to the Red Sox's rotation, firing 5 1/3 strong innings in a win over the Orioles on Monday. He gave up four hits and one run, walking two and striking out three. Masterson pitched five times against the Yankees last year, going 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA. In his first two seasons in the Majors, Masterson has held opponents to a .221 average. He has yet to give up a homer this season.

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (2-0, 2.53 ERA)
Pettitte draws the call for his fourth start of the season as the Yankees complete a three-game series at Fenway Park. The veteran left-hander turned in a gritty outing his last time around, on Tuesday against the A's, limiting Oakland to two runs on nine hits while allowing every batter to put the ball in play -- he recorded no walks and no strikeouts. Pettitte relied on his two-seamer and a sharp curveball to master an Oakland team that threatened but managed to let Pettitte off the hook. The Yankees have been able to count on innings so far from Pettitte; he has pitched at least seven innings in all three of his starts. Pettitte last faced the Red Sox last Aug. 26 at the old Yankee Stadium, allowing six runs on 10 hits in a 4 2/3-inning losing effort. Pettitte has a 6-2 career record with a 3.53 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox are 25-24 against the Yankees at Fenway Park since 2004. The all-time record of the rivals at Fenway Park is 446-446, with four ties. ... The first two games of this series have both lasted four hours and 21 minutes. ... Third baseman Mike Lowell has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he is hitting .447 with five doubles, three homers and 18 RBIs. ... Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury has eight stolen bases, including four in the past five games. ... David Ortiz has a 20-game homerless streak dating back to last season -- his longest drought since he went 42 games without a homer with the Twins in 2002.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• 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
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-2, 4.88) at Indians (Fausto Carmona, 1-3, 7.36), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.