Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees Preview and Pick – Josh Beckett vs. Mike Mussina

Boston Red Sox (9-7) -125, o/u 9 at New York Yankees (9-7), 7:05 pm Eastern Thursday
by Zman of

The perennial powers of the American League East meet again when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees conclude a two-game set at Yankee Stadium Thursday night.

Baseball Sportsbooks are listing Boston, with Josh Beckett slated to throw, as -125 road chalk for Thursday’s game, with a total of 9 . New York, with Mike Mussina set to take the hill, is getting as much as +120 at some outlets as home underdogs.

The Yankees won the first game of this short series Wednesday night 15-9, their third win in a row. New York banged out 16 hits, and the Yanks bullpen, while allowing a couple of inherited runners to score in a six-run Boston fifth, held the Sox scoreless after that. So heading into Thursday’s game, these two teams are tied atop the AL East, a half-game ahead of both the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays.

New York has now beaten the Red Sox five straight games at Yankee Stadium.

Boston is 5-5 on the road this season, and 6-10 vs. the run line. Meanwhile, the Yanks are 5-3 at home, and 7-9 on the run line.

Last year, New York took the season series from the Sox 10 games to eight, with the totals going 11-7. But Boston took two of three games from the Yankees last weekend at Fenway Park. So over the course of the last two seasons, NY has taken 12 of 22 games from the Red Sox, with the o/u going 13-9, with those games averaging 11.0 total runs per.

Beckett (1-1, 6.35, 1.15 WHIP this year) will be making his third start of this season Thursday night after missing the early going with a sore back. These two starting pitchers squared off last Saturday, with Beckett besting Mussina in a 4-3 Boston win. The Boston righty allowed three ER and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, while Mussina gave up four ER on eight hits in 5 2/3 IP.

Beckett made four starts vs. New York last season. So over those last five starts vs. the Yanks, Beckett has allowed 16 ER and 47 baserunners (hits + walks) in 33 1/3 IP. The Red Sox are 3-2 in those five games, as is the o/u.

Mussina (1-2, 4.15, 1.21 WHIP) started twice vs. Boston last season. So over the course of his last three starts vs. the Sox, Mussina has given up 16 ER and 32 baserunners in just 17 1/3 innings of work. New York is winless in those three games, with the o/u going 1-2.

Offensively, Boston ranks 4th in the majors with its .357 team OBP, and is averaging 4.7 runs per game. And the Sox have scored 28 runs over their last four games.

On the other side of this match-up, the Bombers rank 12th in the league with their .340 team OBP, and are averaging 4.4 RPG. And New York, thanks in part to its 15-run outburst Wednesday night, has scored 33 runs over its last four games.

The Boston bullpen has allowed nine ER and 24 baserunners in its last 18 1/3 IP, while the Yanks pen has given up six ER and 23 baserunners in its last 18 1/3 innings of work.

On the injury front, Sox 3B Mike Lowell is on the DL with a bad thumb. And Kevin Youkilis, playing at third in place of Lowell, left Wednesday’s game after fouling a ball off his foot.

The o/u is 7-8-1 in Boston games this season, which are averaging 8.8 total runs, while the totals are 4-12 in Yanks games, which are averaging 8.3 runs per. And games played at Yankee Stadium last year led the league at 11.1 total runs per.

Zman’s Pick: Take the Yankees tonight!