Friday night, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium. It will be the first meeting of the 2021 season between the two historic AL East rivals, if you can believe that. Not counting the 60-game 2020 season, this is the first time the Yankees and Red Sox did not play before June 1 since 1996, when they didn't meet until July.

Here are the AL East standings going into Friday's series opener:

  1. Tampa Bay Rays: 36-22
  2. Boston Red Sox: 33-23 (2 GB)
  3. New York Yankees: 31-26 (4 1/2 GB)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays: 29-25 (5 GB)
  5. Baltimore Orioles: 19-37 (16 GB)

This weekend's series also marks Red Sox manager Alex Cora's first trip to Yankee Stadium since serving a one-year suspension for his role in the Astros and Red Sox sign-stealing scandals. Cora was Boston's manager in 2018 and 2019 before sitting out the 2020 season.

"Having him back in the dugout obviously makes me want to beat them more," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner told reporters, including Anthony Rieber of Newsday, when asked about Cora on Thursday. Gardner later clarified that he was "halfway joking," and added, "No, listen, we don't like those guys, they don't like us."

Here are the details for this weekend's Yankees vs. Red Sox series at Yankee Stadium.

Select games can be streamed on fuboTV (try for free).

DateStart timeStarting pitchersTV

Fri., June 4

7:05 p.m. ET

RHP Michael King (0-2, 2.86) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-2 (4.01)

YES, NESN, MLB Network

Sat., June 5

7:15 p.m. ET

RHP Jameson Taillon (1-4, 5.10) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (54, 5.64)


Sun., June 6

7:08 p.m. ET

RHP Domingo Germán (4-3, 3.27) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.75)


The Yankees considered using an opener in front of King on Friday, but decided against it and will start the young righty outright. King is filling in for the injured Corey Kluber and has yet to throw more than 69 pitches in a game this season. Lefty Nestor Cortes Jr. piggybacked with King last time out and could do so again Friday.

Now, here are five things to know about this weekend's Yankees vs. Red Sox series at Yankee Stadium.

1. The head-to-head series has been one-sided

The Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in four games in the ALDS en route to their 2018 World Series championship. In the two years since, the head-to-head series has been decidedly one-sided in New York's favor. The Yankees are 23-6 against the Red Sox the last two seasons, and have outscored them 191-142 in the 29 games.

Of course, what happened in 2019 and 2020 isn't particularly relevant in 2021. Different teams, many different players, so on and so forth. The Red Sox are a better team now than they were the last two years and the Yankees aren't as good as they were the last two years either. The recent history is in New York's favor, though it shouldn't make them feel any better going into this series.

2. New York's offense is still struggling

Two months into the season, the Yankees are averaging only 3.74 runs per game, one of the five lowest marks in baseball. They scored only two runs in Thursday's loss to the Rays (TB 9, NY 2), already the 22nd time they've been held to two runs or fewer this season. Only the rebuilding Pirates and Tigers have done it more often. Some offensive ranks:

  • Batting average: .227 (27th in MLB)
  • On-base percentage: .314 (14th)
  • Slugging percentage: .373 (24th)

On any given day the starting lineup includes three players hitting under .200 (Gardner, Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor) and four players slugging under .350 (Gardner, Frazier, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres). Aaron Judge has performed at an MVP level and Giancarlo Stanton has been very good when healthy, and Miguel Andújar has gotten hot since rejoining the lineup full-time last month. Otherwise the lineup is loaded with underperformers.

"Our at-bat quality was much better than I thought it was over the weekend. We just didn't have much to show for it," Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters, including Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, earlier this week. "We're just going to keep pouring into game plans and where we can try and make subtle adjustments with individuals. We'll keep working at it."  

3. Some of Boston's top hitters are struggling

The Red Sox lost three of four to the Astros in Houston earlier this week and several of their top hitters had a tough series. Here are some numbers since the start of the Astros series:

Those four typically hit in the top five lineup spots alongside Alex Verdugo and they're a combined 8 for 56 (.143) with 22 strikeouts in their last four games. Not surprisingly, the Red Sox were limited to nine runs in the four-game Astros series. At 4.93 runs per game, the Red Sox are still one of the highest scoring teams in MLB, though they're not going into the weekend on a hot streak.

"Right now, it seems like we've got a lot of guys who are struggling," Cora told reporters, including's Chris Cotillo, earlier this week. "What kind of adjustments can we do right now? There's not much we can do. You trust the process, you trust the player. They're due now. That's the way I see it."

4. The Yankees have pitched very well

It's a minor miracle the Yankees are 31-26 despite being one of the lowest scoring teams in the game. They can thank their pitching for that. New York has allowed only 3.67 runs per game this season, a top five mark in baseball, and their rotation in particular has performed better than expected. Here are their rotation ranks:

  • ERA: 3.56 (10th in MLB)
  • FIP: 3.56 (6th)
  • WHIP: 1.11 (7th)
  • WAR: 6.2 (5th)

The rotation behind Gerrit Cole was a legitimate concern coming into the season. Kluber (before his injury) and Germán have pitched very well though, and Jordan Montgomery has been rock solid. Only Taillon, who's been inconsistent in his first year back from his second career Tommy John surgery, has been a below league average performer. The rotation has carried the Yankees.

Our pitching has been everything we could have hoped for at this point," Boone recently told reporters, including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. "I think the starters have been really solid. The bullpen has been excellent."  

5. The Red Sox got two top relievers from the Yankees

There's nothing better than getting something for nothing, and the Red Sox not only got two of their top relievers for nothing, they got them from the Yankees. First, Boston selected righty Garrett Whitlock from New York in December's Rule 5 Draft. The 2017 18th round pick is coming back from Tommy John surgery and the Red Sox picked him without seeing him in a game since 2019.

In 14 relief appearances this season, Whitlock has a 1.73 ERA with 27 strikeouts and only seven walks in 26 innings. He frequently works multiple innings and is starting to see more and more high-leverage work. "Jokingly, I said, 'thank you,'" Cora told Cotillo about a recent conversation with Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

A few weeks after taking Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft, the Red Sox added veteran righty Adam Ottavino in a salary dump trade with the Yankees. Boston received Ottavino and a pitching prospect in exchange for taking on $8.125 million of Ottavino's salary. New York wants to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold this year and decided to reallocate Ottavino's money.

In 25 appearances this season Ottavino has a shiny 2.91 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. He's issued way too many walks (16), but Ottavino remains death on righties, and he and Whitlock figure to see plenty of action against New York's righty heavy lineup in this weekend's series.