"He always busts my chops about that," Bay laughed. "This is a nice spring/summer day sometimes where I'm from. I enjoy this. It actually plays well for me."
Quite well, it seems. As relieved as manager Joe Girardi's team was last summer to see card-carrying Yankees killer Manny Ramirez pack his bags and head out west, New York couldn't have foreseen the effect that trade would have on baseball's foremost rivalry. Bay hit .308 with three doubles against the Yankees last season, routinely splattering ink across the box score but never setting it completely ablaze.
Since then, he's graduated into the role vacated by Ramirez -- that of a bona fide terror to anyone wearing pinstripes. Yet another Bay home run landed in the Yankee Stadium stands on Tuesday evening, giving him three long balls and 10 RBIs against the Yankees in merely five games this season. He's batting .556 against New York and reaching base at an otherworldly .708 clip.
"You don't go home feeling any more satisfied than you would beating another team just because they're you're rival," Bay said. "Obviously, there's a little more emotion and stuff in these games, which makes it a little different than just a regular series meeting. But for the most part, once you go through it a little bit, I think you realize it's just the same, another series."
Another series that the Red Sox swept, after losing three of four to the Rays over the weekend. On Wednesday, Boston will return to Fenway Park for the first time since completing a 9-0 homestand late last month.
"We obviously play well at home," Bay said. "But you're not really good unless you win on the road. These two wins don't make us road warriors or anything like that, but that's a good way to get back to where we play well."
Perhaps it's only fitting that next on the schedule is Cleveland, a team that Bay has tormented with similar regularity to the Yankees. In three games against the Indians earlier this season, Bay hit .455 with one home run, three walks and three RBIs. And throughout his seven-year career, he has posted a .344 average against Indians pitching.
The weather doesn't promise to be any better in Boston, but perhaps that's a good thing for Bay. The Red Sox can only hope it's also a good thing for Justin Masterson, who will start Wednesday's series opener. Masterson has recorded each of his two wins this season -- and seven of his eight career victories -- at home.
He'll square off against Carl Pavano, who hasn't beaten the Red Sox since 1999.
BOS: RHP Justin Masterson (2-1, 4.37 ERA)
The right-hander was on his way to a pretty good performance in his last outing when one ill-fated pitch ruined the entire day. That pitch was a mislocated sinker that Evan Longoria belted for a grand slam in a 6-2 Rays win. Masterson went six innings in that game, giving up six hits and six runs while walking three and striking out six. In his three starts, Masterson is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA. This will be Masterson's first career start against the Indians. He has faced them three times out of the bullpen in his career, striking out four and not allowing a run in 3 1/3 innings.
CLE: RHP Carl Pavano (1-3, 7.46 ERA)
Pavano turned in a gem against the Tigers on Friday, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts. He was masterful for the first seven innings, allowing no runs and just three hits and not letting any runner past first base. It was his longest outing since he shut out the Mariners on May 17, 2005, when he was with the Yankees. Pavano will look to keep it going vs. the Red Sox, against whom he is 1-3 with an 8.18 ERA in five career starts. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 24.75 ERA lifetime at Fenway Park.
Red Sox hitters struck out a season-high 14 times against the Yankees on Tuesday but also recorded a season-high five consecutive hits in the first inning. ... Third baseman Mike Lowell has hit safely in 17 of his past 19 games, hitting .350 with 22 RBIs over that span. ... Outfielder J.D. Drew has five hits in eight career at-bats off Pavano, including a double.
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Official game notes
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Thursday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 3-1, 2.91) vs. Indians (Aaron Laffey, 2-0, 4.09), 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (Brad Penny, 2-1, 7.61) vs. Rays (James Shields, 3-2, 3.51), 7:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 2-2, 5.11) vs. Rays (Scott Kazmir, 3-3, 6.00), 3:40 p.m. ET