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Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

It is the hope of Red Sox Nation that Mariano Rivera never exits the bullpen and enters a game this weekend. If he does so, it could be the final time Rivera pitches at Fenway Park.

That will be one of the things to watch for this weekend when the New York Yankees invade Fenway for the final time in 2013 (playoffs pending) to take on the Boston Red Sox. The Sox are 8.5 games up in the AL East and have a Magic Number of 8 over Tampa Bay, 6 over Baltimore and 5 over the Yanks. In short, a series sweep would eliminate the Yankees from East contention and move the Sox to at least a Magic Number of 5 over the Rays and possibly lower if the Rays lose in Minnesota.

The series gets under way tonight when Boston (89-59) seeks its 90th win. The Red Sox will have John Lackey on the mound, followed by Jon Lester Saturday and Clay Buchholz Sunday. Lackey is 9-12 with a 3.48 ERA and his last two wins have come against the Yankees, most recently this past weekend in the Bronx. In that game, Lackey was given plenty of run support before leaving the game in the sixth inning with a 12-7 lead. The Sox went on to win 13-9, despite Lackey not having his best outing – 7 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 6 K. He will attempt to beat the Yanks for a third straight time tonight.

Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

1. Pedroia, 2B
2. Victorino, RF
3. Ortiz, DH
4. Carp, 1B
5. Nava, LF
6. Saltalamacchia, C
7. Drew, SS
8. Middlebrooks, 3B
9. Bradley Jr., CF

Lackey, P

Starting for New York (79-68) is Hiroki Kuroda, who is 1-3 against the Sox in five starts this season. At Fenway, he is 1-1 in two starts against Boston, but has only given up seven runs (five earned) in 12.2 innings. For the year, Kuroda is 11-10 with a 2.99 ERA.

Salty goes yard
In his first game back since resting with back soreness, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a solo home run, bringing the Sox within a run at the time. Saltalamacchia was 1-for-3 with two runs scored Thursday and could help solidify the middle of the lineup. David Ortiz also blasted a home run, his 27th this season.

Yanks rolling
New York has won three of its last four series – the lone series loss at the hands of the Red Sox last weekend. The Yankees just finished a series in Baltimore by winning the final three games of the four-game set. Over the last 30 games, the Yankees are tied for the best record in the American League at 19-11 with two other teams – Oakland and Boston. Because of their recent success, New York has climbed to within one game of the second Wild Card spot behind Tampa Bay. Cleveland, Baltimore and Kansas City are all within 2.5 games, as well.

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

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Ben Whitehead 9/13/2013 05:00:00 PM Edit
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