MLB Odds: Yanks’ magic number shrinks

By: Jimmy Sirody | Thursday, September 23, 2010
andy pettitte

Yanks southpaw Andy Pettitte has a career record of 15-8 against the Red Sox.

The good news is that the New York Yankees may not be popping champagne corks in Fenway Park next weekend. The bad news is that means the Boston Red Sox will be eliminated by then.

The magic baseball betting number for the Yankees to eliminate the Sox is three, so Boston still has a pulse as they arrive in the Bronx on Friday to open a three-game weekend series.

However, rather than focusing on their age-old rival six times in the final 10 games in a winner-take-all struggle for a postseason berth, the Red Sox are merely playing out the string.

New York, meanwhile, is on the verge of clinching a postseason berth and trying to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League East crown.

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The Yankees have led the division all year and have the game's deepest lineup - not to mention Mariano Rivera and C.C. Sabathia. Yet their recent struggles have exposed the bullpen and the back of the rotation as big weaknesses.

New York isn't likely to defend its crown without a healthy Andy Pettitte (11-2, 2.81), so one can't blame Joe Girardi for wiping the drool off his chin after watching the lefty pitch last Sunday at Baltimore.

Pettitte was even sharper than expected in his first start in two months, limiting the Birds to a run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings. Only one of those hits made it to the outfield, and the veteran was economical, needing only 79 pitches.

Pettitte returns to the mound in Friday's opener at Yankee Stadium to face the Red Sox for only the second time this season and for the first time since April 7. He limited the Sox to one run and six hits in six innings, improving his record against them to 15-8 and lowering his ERA to 3.87.

The Yankees are looking forward to taking their licks against Josh Beckett (5-5, 5.71). The hard-throwing right-hander served up batting practice pitches against the defending champs this year, posting a 0-2 record and an 11.17 ERA in four starts. New York has hit .363 against Beckett and stroked five homers in just 19 1/3 innings.

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Boston hits the road, where it has won four straight, after dropping four of six at home to division rivals Toronto and Baltimore.

The Sox are 68-32 following an off day. They have lost eight of their last 10 versus southpaws and are 2-6 in Beckett's last eight starts.

New York has won four straight with Pettitte on the bump against Boston and 11 of 16 when he toed the rubber at home against the Sox.

The Yankees have won 16 of the past 22 series scuffles and 10 of 13 in the Bronx.


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