New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox Preview and Pick – Joba Chamberlain vs. Jon Lester

New York Yankees (9-6) Joba Chamberlain +108, 9.5 O/U at Boston
Red Sox (9-6) Jon Lester -118, 9.5 O/U, Fenway Park, Boston,
Mass., 7:10 PM EST, Friday

By Badger of

Its that time of the year again, time for our favorite four-letter
sports channel and every other major media outlet coast-to-coast to
cram the heated rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston
Red Sox down our throats.

This years first series between the two American League East powers
opens Friday at Fenway Park with a showcase of young arms, as the
Yankees will send Joba Chamberlain out to the hill to face Red Sox
lefty Jon Lester.

Both teams come into Fridays game riding high, as the Yankees enter
with a modest three-game winning streak, while the Red Sox will be
looking to add on to their seven-game winning streak.

The Red Sox are fresh off of a double-header sweep of the Minnesota
Twins, scoring 17 runs in the two games played Wednesday after
Tuesdays game was rained out. Before that, the Sox swept the
Baltimore Orioles in a four-game set at Fenway where they outscored
the Birds 30-to-14.

The Yankees come in on the heels of a two-game series sweep of
Oakland, including Wednesdays 14-inning affair that ended when
outfielder Melky Cabrera hit a walk-off two run shot, the first walk-
off job in the Yankees new billion-dollar homerdome of a ballpark.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Boston and left-hander Lester as slim
-118 favorites on the moneyline, with the Yankees in the rare role of
underdogs at +108 on the dimeline. The over/under total opened at 9.5
runs and is holding firm, although a lot of sportsbooks have the
total currently off the board.

The Yankees actually benefited from Mondays rainout versus the As,
as it allowed them to bump their rotation back in order to start
Chamberlain on Friday. It was originally slated to be Chien-Ming
Wangs turn in the rotation, and unless youve been living under a
rock, you can understand why the Yanks are breathing a huge sigh of
relief that they dont have to put Wang and his 34.50 ERA on the bump
against the Sox.

Chamberlain has pitched better than Wang in his first two starts, but
he hasnt lit the world on fire either as he has yet to earn a
decision. In 10.2 innings of work he has a 5.06 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP and
a .367 opponents on-base percentage. In his last start, a full week
ago last Friday, he lasted only 4.2 innings allowing six hits, five
walks and five runs in what turned out to be a 6-5 victory over

Lester has been sort of Jekyll and Hyde this season as well, as he
was tagged around his first two starts to the tune of 18 hits and 11
runs in his first 11 innings of the season, both losses. He rebounded
back to his old form his last time out last Sunday, handcuffing the
Orioles by allowing just four hits and two walks in seven scoreless
innings of a 2-1 Red Sox victory. For the season he is now 1-2 with a
5.50 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a .355 opponents on-base percentage.

Since both starters are relatively young, neither has a vast history
in the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry either. Chamberlain has had two starts
(six appearances) versus the Sox and is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA, a 1.154
WHIP and a .294 OBP. Lester has had four starts versus the Yankees
and is also 2-0 with a 3.42 ERA, a 1.253 WHIP and a .324 OBP.

Both offenses have been picking up steam in the past week, as both
are now tied for 7th in MLB scoring 5.6 runs per game. The Red Sox
have actually averaged 8 runs per game during their winning streak,
and the Yankees are ranked 3rd in homeruns hit with 25, 14 of which
came on their six-game homestand in the new Yankee Stadium. Both
teams are in the top-10 in team hitting as well, with the Sox (.275,
7th) just slightly ahead of the Yankees (.271, 10th) at this early
point of the season.

One player who is sure to get his fair share of boos on Friday is Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira flirted with becoming a
Red Sox in the offseason before taking more money to become a Yankee,
and his .194 (12-for-63) lifetime average in Fenway Park will only
make the home crowd more aggressive at giving him the old Bronx cheer.

This game, and the series for that matter, could come down to the
strength of the bullpens, which gives the Red Sox a big advantage.
Over the last three games the Yankees pen has been knocked around a
little (26.1 IP, 1.67 WHIP, 8.20 ERA), while the Red Sox pen has been
used a lot more (31.0 IP), but theyve also been much more effective
(1.19 WHIP, 2.03 ERA). Both teams had an off day on Thursday, so
expect it to be Johnny Wholestaff all weekend long if the starters
dont go far into the game.

Keep an eye on the totals this weekend too, as the over has been a
strong play historically. Seven of the Yankees last 10 games have
gone over. Ten of the Red Sox last 11 games have gone over the total,
and the over is a cash-machine-like 21-7 in the last 28 games between
these two teams when theyve played at Fenway.

Badgers Pick: Not only do I expect Teixeira to be tight, but I
picture Chamberlain being all amped up as well, and his command of
the strike zone is questionable already. The Red Sox are hot at the
plate, are playing in front of the home crowd, and are just -118 as
favorites, so theres not a whole lot of juice to eat to take them
either. Im riding the Red Sox here at -118.