MLB Baseball - Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (-107, 9.5) 7:00 PM EST
The second contest of the series assuredly will be a tight, highly competitive affair with a pair of very successful pitchers who throughout their careers have risen to the occasion when challenged.
The Yankees incentive is further enhanced with Seattle losing to Los Angeles, bringing them to within two games of the wild card slot in the loss column. Baseball bettors will have to scrutinize this contest closely.
Boston's Josh Beckett (16-5, 3.21) will face his boy-hood idle for the first time in his career in Roger Clemens (5-5, 4.34). "I idolized him," Beckett said during the 2003 World Series against New York.
Beckett will have a big problem trying to contain a loaded and smoldering New York line-up that is crushing the ball. The Yankees are the leading scoring team in baseball, averaging almost six runs a game. In August they've cranked it up even more, averaging a half-run more per game this month.
Five of the Bronx Bombers regulars hold a batting average over .300, and five have posted double digit home runs in the dog days of summer. Beckett knows all to well, as he has not been able to solve the New York bats since moving to Boston, with misleading 3-2 record and 7.91 ERA.
The Red Sox are a sluggish 2-8 against the money line in road games after six or more consecutive road games this season.
For Clemens and the Yankees it is not so much about trying to knock out the Red Sox, but more like John Travolta's old disco flick "Stayin' Alive". The best case scenario for New York after the last pitch on Thursday is to trail by six games with a month to go, and hopefully draw closer in the wild card picture.
In Clemens return, he has been far more effective at Yankee Stadium with 3-1 record and 2.79 ERA. He is 8-5 with a 3.85 ERA in 19 lifetime starts against the Red Sox, but 6-5 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts versus them with the Yankees.
In situations like tonight, Joe Torre's club has been lethal with 16-2 mark against the ML in home games vs. American League teams scoring 5.2 or more runs a game in the second half of the season over the last three seasons.
Plus, even though the BoSox do a splendid job in on base percentage, the Yanks are perfect 8-0 against AL teams with an on base percentage of .355 or better in the second half of the season over the last two years.
New York is a -107 favorite at sportsbook.com with the total listed as 9.5. Oddsmakers are wisely not taking Beckett's history at face value against the Yankees. He is 9-1 on the road in 2007 with sterling 1.90 ERA.
Boston in fact is 42-23 after having won two of their last three games this season. Over the last three seasons these teams have split 26 games in the "House that Ruth built."
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