Two of CC Sabathia's three losses this year have come against the Boston Red Sox. Josh Beckett beat him both times.
Beckett looks to continue his history of outpitching the New York Yankees ace Thursday night when the Red Sox go for a three-game sweep and their longest road winning streak over their fiercest rival in nearly a century.
Sabathia (7-3, 2.80 ERA) lost both of his starts this season to Boston (35-26), yielding seven runs and 16 hits over 12 1-3 innings. Beckett (4-2, 2.01) has clearly outdueled the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, limiting the Yankees to six hits over 14 scoreless innings while striking out to win both matchups.
Boston is 6-1 when Beckett gets the ball opposite Sabathia, including two wins in the 2007 AL championship series as the Red Sox eliminated Cleveland, en route to their last World Series crown.
Beckett has gone 4-1 with a 3.77 ERA in those seven matchups, while Sabathia is 1-4 with a 6.05 ERA.
While Beckett is looking for a fourth consecutive victory over the Yankees (33-26), Boston is on the brink of its longest road winning streak in this series since an 18-game run from 1911-13, at Hilltop Park and the Polo Grounds.
The Red Sox extended their current winning streak at Yankee Stadium to five with an 11-6 victory Wednesday after taking Tuesday's three-game series opener 6-4.
Boston is 7-1 in the season series and leads the AL East by one game over New York.
"We play these guys so much. If you don't play well they're going to beat you," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter, batting .194 against Boston this year. "They've outplayed us. They have a good team. The bottom line is they can hit and they can pitch. They can do a little bit of everything."
Beckett, who will try to give Boston its second consecutive series sweep in the Bronx, is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA over his last seven starts. He appeared headed to another victory Saturday after allowing three runs and four hits in six innings, but the bullpen surrendered four runs in the ninth. The Red Sox eventually beat Oakland 9-8 in 14 innings.
Sabathia has been even more dominant lately, winning his last four starts while compiling a 1.60 ERA and throwing at least eight innings in each.
The left-hander was superb again Saturday, yielding two runs - one earned - before exiting with two outs in the ninth of a 3-2 victory at Los Angeles.
"CC's amazing. He's been a life-saver here for the last three years and an immovable rock," Alex Rodriguez said. "He's a guy who starts winning streaks for us and stops losing streaks."
Rodriguez is 6 for 29 with two solo homers in the season series with Boston. He's 1 for 10 in the first two games this week, with the lone hit a solo homer Wednesday.
The Yankees are batting .227 as a team versus the Red Sox in 2011.
David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury are pacing Boston offensively. Ortiz's has a pair of two-run homers in this series, while Ellsbury is 5 for 10 with two doubles, one homer and two RBIs.
Ortiz is batting .467 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last eight games overall.
He and Ellsbury may need to carry the offense even more if Dustin Pedroia misses significant time. The second baseman was headed back to Boston on Thursday to have his sore right knee examined, and his status is uncertain.