BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox and Yankees will be fitting three games into two days, with some critical ground in the wild-card race set to be fought for between the two divisional rivals.
Tuesday will feature a pair of seven-inning games in the Bronx, with the 1 p.m. game being a makeup from the game that was postponed when the Yankees were hit with several positive COVID-19 tests in mid-July. They’ll play the second part of that doubleheader on Tuesday evening, with the series finale on Wednesday night.
Entering the series, the Red Sox are in position as the top wild card team in the AL, a half-game up over Oakland for that spot. The Yankees, the hottest team in baseball, are 1.5 games behind the A’s and two games behind the Red Sox in the wild-card race. The Red Sox remain 3.5 games behind Tampa in the AL East.
The Red Sox will be tasked with cooling the Yankees, who have won three straight, 13 of their last 17, and 20 of their last 28.
Here’s how the pitching matchups are shaping up.
Tuesday, Game 1
Tanner Houck (3-3, 2.08 ERA) vs. Jordan Montgomery (4-5, 3.69 ERA)
The rookie Houck is set to make his seventh start of the season, as he and Chris Sale have supplanted Martin Perez and Garrett Richards in the starting rotation. Houck is coming off one of his worse starts of the year, after he allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in five innings in a loss to the Rays last week.
He’s faced the Yankees twice this year — once in relief, once as a starter. He’s allowed just one unearned run on three hits and three walks in his 7.2 innings pitched, during which he struck out 11 Yankees. New York batters are hitting just .115 against him.
Though the 4-5 record is not evidence of it, Montgomery has been a reliable starter for the Yankees all season. Two of his losses have come against the Red Sox. He allowed three runs (all earned) off eight hits and two walks in a loss at Fenway Park on June 26, and he allowed three more runs (all earned) over six inning in mid-July at Yankee Stadium in a 4-0 Red Sox win. Montgomery took a no-decision a week after that, when he pitched 5.2 shutout innings in another Red Sox victory.
Tuesday, Game 2
Nathan Eovaldi (10-7, 3.92 ERA) vs. Luis Gil (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Eovaldi will be making his fifth start vs. the Yankees this year. He’s 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his first four starts, having allowed five earned runs in 26.1 innings, striking out 28 batters in the process while walking just one. His 0.949 WHIP vs. the Yankees shows how much trouble he’s given the Bombers all season long. He faced the Yankees in back-to-back starts in July, allowing three runs in 12.2 innings, striking out 15 batters and issuing just a single walk.
The Yankees will be sending out the rookie Luis Gil, who’s yet to allow a run in his 11 innings of big league action. He’s given up six hits and three walks while striking out 14 batters, with an impressive 0.818 WHIP over his two starts vs. Baltimore and Seattle. Those teams do rank 14th and 12th, respectively, in runs scored in the AL this year. So facing the Red Sox and the AL’s third-most potent offense at Yankee Stadium will present a different challenge.
Nick Pivetta (9-5, 4.20 ERA) vs. Andrew Heaney (7-8, 5.78 ERA; 1-1, 9.00 ERA with Yankees)
Andrew Heaney hasn’t exactly been what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired him at the deadline. In three starts for New York, he’s 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA and 1.400 WHIP. He allowed four earned runs in four innings in his Yankees debut against Baltimore, then allowed four earned runs over six innings against Seattle in his second start. Last week, he got the start in the Field of Dreams game, and he was touched for seven earned runs over five innings.
Heaney’s struggles with the Yankees are merely a continuation of his time with the Angels. Since June 15, Heaney is 3-5 with a 7.36 ERA.
Heaney has faced the Red Sox once this year, when he was still with the Angels. He allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five in a win in Boston on July 7.
Pivetta has been solid for Boston since the calendar flipped to August. He’s allowed four earned runs over 16.2 innings, for a 2.16 ERA in his three August starts vs. the Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles. He’s allowed just 11 base runners in the month, while striking out 19.
Despite having made 23 starts this season, Wednesday night will be Pivetta’s first time facing the Yankees this year. It will be just the second time Pivetta has ever faced the Yankees; he allowed two runs in two innings of work in a relief outing for Philadelphia last season.