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Red Sox, Yanks turn to rivalry to reverse course

@BryanHoch and @IanMBrowne
April 15, 2019

Six months after the Red Sox twice redecorated the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium in showers of beer and bubbly -- first to celebrate clinching the American League East, then their advance past the Yankees in the AL Division Series -- the defending World Series champions are returning to the

Six months after the Red Sox twice redecorated the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium in showers of beer and bubbly -- first to celebrate clinching the American League East, then their advance past the Yankees in the AL Division Series -- the defending World Series champions are returning to the scene of the crime.

The classic rivalry will be on the main stage again on Tuesday, as the Yankees are set to host the Red Sox for a two-game series. The matchup serves as an appetizer for the highly-anticipated showdown that will take place at London Stadium on June 29-30, when Major League Baseball will make its first foray into the United Kingdom.

"It's the biggest rivalry in baseball, for sure, over the last, well, ever," said Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who starts the series opener. "You can just feel the difference and the energy when you go into the ballpark and the sheer hatred when you walk into Yankee Stadium. It's definitely the passion of the fans, you feel it when we play them in Boston or when we go there. It's intense."

Boston is coming off a franchise-record 108 victories in the regular season, while the Yankees posted 100 regular-season wins, their highest total since their most recent World Series championship year of 2009.

That has not translated into results so far this year, as both clubs have struggled; the injury-ravaged Yankees have lost nine of their first 15 contests, while Boston has dropped 11 of its first 17 games.

"After what happened last year, a lot of us in this locker room have a little bad taste in our mouth," Yankees first baseman/DH Luke Voit said. "It was my first time in the playoffs, and it sucks that they won. More fuel to the fire. It will be exciting that we get a chance to get back at them."

The Red Sox just want to start playing like themselves again.

"Absolutely," said Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland. "Anywhere is a good place for it to happen, but might as well start there."

When will the games be played? How can I watch?

First pitch in the Bronx is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday's game will be broadcast on WPIX in New York and NESN in New England, as well as by MLB Network. Wednesday's game can be seen on YES in New York, NESN in Red Sox nation and on ESPN.

Who are the starting pitchers?

James Paxton (1-2, 6.00 ERA) will receive his introduction to the rivalry on Tuesday, taking the ball for his first start against the Red Sox as a member of the Yankees. Paxton has struggled through three starts, and revealed on Sunday that he was tipping pitches in his most recent effort against the Astros. He is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four career starts vs. Boston.

"I'm sure I'll be a little nervous going in, having it be my first experience being a part of this rivalry," Paxton said. "But all I can do is go out and enjoy it and bring my best."

Sale (0-3, 9.00 ERA) is off to the worst start of his career and is searching for answers. One issue has been the slider, which has typically been Sale's putaway pitch. The offering has lacked its usual bite so far this season, and that's a big thing Sale has been working on in between starts. The one thing Sale has going for him is his history against the Yankees, both in his career (1.61 ERA) in 17 career appearances and last October. Sale defeated the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS, hurling 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball with eight strikeouts. In clinching Game 4, Sale had a dominant eighth inning in relief.

How have the teams changed since October?
The Yankees have had numerous roster changes since the ALDS, especially since they feature a Major League-high 11 players on the injured list. That aside, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Lance Lynn, outfielder Andrew McCutchen, right-hander David Robertson and infielder Neil Walker are now playing elsewhere. Offseason additions include Paxton, right-hander Adam Ottavino, infielder DJ LeMahieu, infielder Gio Urshela and outfielder Mike Tauchman.

Boston's roster should be largely familiar to anyone who watched the march to the title. Of those who appeared in the ALDS, right-hander Joe Kelly, right-hander Craig Kimbrel, infielder Ian Kinsler and catcher Sandy Leon (now in Triple-A) are no longer around. Kimbrel remains unsigned. Right-hander Colten Brewer is a new face in the bullpen, having been acquired from the Padres in November.

Who is hot?
Red Sox: It seems like J.D. Martinez is always on a hot streak. That has certainly been the case to start this season. The slugger has a hit in 16 of the first 17 games and has five doubles during his six-game hitting streak.

Yankees: LeMahieu is batting .396 and has reached base in all but two games so far this year. Aaron Judge has hit four homers with seven RBIs in his last eight games, after hitting no homers with three RBIs through his first seven. Ottavino owns a 1.13 ERA, with 13 strikeouts in eight innings.

Who is not?
Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia is ice cold since coming off the injured list. The second baseman is hitting .105. He isn't alone. Pedroia is far from alone. Last year's MVP, right fielder Mookie Betts, is hitting .222. After Monday's loss, Betts called his performance "unacceptable."

Yankees: Greg Bird has had trouble making contact, with 16 strikeouts in 35 at-bats. Clint Frazier is 2-for-16 (.125) after notching nine hits in his first 21 at-bats (.429). Brett Gardner is batting .190, and has played more than anticipated due to injuries.

Anything else fans might want to know?
• One entertaining subplot to the ALDS came after Game 2 at Fenway Park, when Judge celebrated the Yankees' 6-2 victory by rolling a speaker to the team bus -- past the Red Sox's clubhouse -- blasting Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York." Boston pasted the Yankees, 16-1, in Game 3, then played the song themselves as they partied following a 4-3 win in Game 4.

• The Yankees took six out of nine from the Red Sox in the Bronx in last year's regular season. It was a different story at Fenway, where the Red Sox went 7-3.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.