Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

The Boston Red Sox (59-39) picked up a 4-2 win over their hated-rival New York Yankees (51-45) Friday to open the unofficial second half of the season without the benefit of a run or RBI from the heart of their lineup. The balance on this team is what makes it one of the best in baseball and the Sox continue to show it on a nightly basis.

They will have a chance to do so today against one of the better pitchers in the American League. In case you were wondering, yes, those 3-5 hitters will be called upon at some point today to deliver. And they will need to if the Sox want to take Game 2 of this series.

A pitchers’ duel may break out at Fenway Park as Boston’s John Lackey opposes New York’s Hiroki Kuroda. Lackey is 7-6 with a 2.78 ERA on the year and has arguably been the Red Sox ace for the last two months. He has a 1.32 ERA in home games and has a 2.08 ERA in day games, boding well for this afternoon’s start.

Here is the Red Sox lineup today (first pitch – 4:05 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Nava, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Carp, 1B
6. Gomes, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, SS
9. Iglesias, 3B

Lackey, P

Kuroda is 8-6 with a 2.65 ERA and has thrown 12 scoreless innings over his last two starts with nine strikeouts and 12 hits over that span. However, against Boston this season, he has pitched 6.2 innings and allowed five runs in two losses.

Drew back in town; Napoli, Victorino out
Stephen Drew was reactivated from the DL after missing a few weeks with a bad hamstring. The Red Sox sent Brock Holt back to Pawtucket in a corresponding move. Missing from today's lineup are Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. Manager John Farrell wanted another left-handed bat in the lineup, hence Mike Carp is filling in at fifth in the order and playing first base. Victorino left Friday's game with tightness in his hamstring, an injury that has been nagging him for over a month.

Chance to put ‘em to bed
After Friday’s win, the Red Sox increased their lead over the Yankees to seven games. Although their lead remained 2.5 games over the Rays and 4.5 over the Orioles, who both won, the Sox continue to push the Yankees deeper into the AL East cellar. The Sox are 5-2 against the Yankees this season, outscoring them 36-17. A sweep this weekend and the Yanks would be nine games back and likely wouldn’t be making any significant moves at the trade deadline, nor would there be any rush to get players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and others back in the lineup. A weak roster would also be nice for the Sox, who still play New York another 10 games after this series.

Just 10 more
The 2012 Red Sox finished with 69 wins. Enough about that. There are 64 games left in the 2013 season and Boston is just 10 wins away from matching that total. Without being a jinx, here’s hoping these Red Sox don’t go 10-54 the remainder of the way.

Let us know what you think about today’s game by commenting below.

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Ben Whitehead 7/20/2013 02:00:00 PM Edit
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