Round 1 slated for Fenway

The Yankees and Red Sox are both hot at the right time, as they enter their first clash of the season against each other at Fenway Park this weekend.

Alex Rodriguez looks like he's going to have the season that every Yankees fan has been waiting for since his being acquired from the Rangers prior to the 2004 season. But MVP awards are not won in April and Rodriguez will have to show he can perform against the best of the best before he completely wins everybody over. Speaking of which, the Red Sox are throwing their three best pitchers this weekend, so it should be a good test both for Rodriguez and the Yankees to see who has the upper hand in the early part of a rivalry that should stretch out to the final days of the regular season, if not beyond.

Curt Schilling

Andy Pettitte vs. Curt Schilling
Pettitte is 13-5 in his career against the Red Sox in the regular season and 2-0 against them in the playoffs, but he hasn't faced them since 2003. Amazingly, in 64 2/3 innings pitched at Fenway Park (including the postseason), he's only allowed two home runs, so don't expect him to be fazed by the big numbers that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz have against the Yankees (42 home runs against them the last four regular seasons). Curt Schilling might be the one guy who can cool down A-Rod. He's held Rodriguez to a .194 batting average (6-for-32) with nine strikeouts and only two home runs allowed in his career.

Jeff Karstens

Jeff Karstens vs. Josh Beckett
Which Beckett will show up? The one who held the Yankees to two earned runs in two appearances in the 2003 World Series, or the one who got pounded to the tune of a 9.45 ERA in four games last season? The good Beckett has been on display thus far in 2007, as he's 3-0 for the second straight season. Rodriguez, if he gets an RBI in the series opener, will be trying to match his career best RBI streak in this contest. He enters the weekend with an RBI in five straight games. His high is seven consecutive games, done three times, once each in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Chase Wright vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
The last Yankees pitcher to win the first two starts of his career, which Wright will try to do under the pressure of Sunday Night Baseball, is Orlando Hernandez in 1998. He'll only have to beat Matsuzaka, who will have a much less prominent mound foe than he did in his first start at Fenway, when he ran into Felix Hernandez. For those wondering, Rodriguez has done the following against prominent Japanese-born pitchers: He was 5-for-18 with two home runs against Hideo Nomo, 6-for-11 with two home runs against Hideki Irabu and 2-for-9 and homerless against Kaz Sasaki.

• Cardinals at Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET: In his first season in the majors as a starting pitcher, Braden Looper (2-1, 2.37) has pitched well thus far in three starts. He's allowed a total of five runs in 19 innings. Ted Lilly (1-1, 2.37) is coming off his best start of the season, having allowed just one run in six innings while striking out 10 against the Reds last Sunday.

Jon Lieber

• Phillies at Reds, 7:10 p.m. ET: Jon Lieber makes his first start of the season after replacing Brett Myers in the Phillies' rotation. Kyle Lohse is coming off a dazzling performance in his last start for the Reds, pitching eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over the Cubs.

• A's at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET: First-year Texas manager Ron Washington faces off for the first time against an Oakland team with whom he served as a coach for the past 11 seasons. Joe Blanton (1-0, 4.00) starts for the A's. He has a 3.97 ERA in two road starts thus far. In his three starts, Brandon McCarthy (1-2, 7.07) has given up a whopping 21 hits in 14 innings pitched.

• Friday's complete list of probable starters

• Indians LHP Cliff Lee (strained right abdominal muscle) is scheduled to throw 70 pitches in a rehab outing with Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday.

Rodrigo Lopez

• The Rockies placed RHP Rodrigo Lopez on the 15-day DL with tightness in his right elbow and purchased the contract of RHP Matt Herges from Triple-A Colorado Springs.

• Twins CF Torii Hunter missed his second consecutive game with a bruised left shoulder.

• Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen sat for a second straight game as he recovers from food poisoning.

• Reds LHP Mike Stanton made his 1,118th career appearance, leaving him one behind John Franco for second place on the career list. Jesse Orosco holds the record at 1,252.

• Braves RHP Lance Cormier will make a rehab appearance on Sunday at Class A Rome. He's expected to throw between 40-45 pitches.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Justin Morneau reaches to score a run in the second inning for the Twins.
Alex Rodriguez Alex Rodriguez hit his major league leading 10th home run, a game-winning, two-out, three-run blast in the Yankees' 8-6 win over the Indians. Rodriguez also leads the majors with 26 RBI.
Manny Ramirez hits his first HR of the season.
Rich Hill Rich Hill pitched eight shutout innings, striking out seven, in the Cubs' 3-0 win over the Braves. Hill improved his record to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 0.41.
Jose Guillen Jose Guillen went 0-for-4 and struck out to end the game with the tying run on second base as the Mariners lost to the Twins, 6-5. Guillen's batting average on the season dropped to .176.
David Weathers Handed a 6-2 lead entering the top of the eighth, the Reds' bullpen gave up the lead by allowing six runs in the final two innings en route to an 8-6 loss to the Astros. David Weathers surrendered the big hit, a bases-clearing double to Luke Scott.
"Rough day. You know that if you make a couple of mistakes to those guys, you're going to get in trouble."
-- Rookie Rick Vanden Hurk, who allowed eight runs in four innings as the Marlins lost to the Mets 11-3
Jake Peavy • You think it's unusual for a winning pitcher to hit a home run? Maybe so, but here's something that's truly rare: Jake Peavy hit a double and a triple in the Padres' 11-6 win over the Diamondbacks. Peavy was only the second pitcher to do so since 1997. (Brandon Backe did it in 2005.) One hundred fifty-seven winning pitchers hit home runs during that time.

• Complete Elias Says

White Sox win, but Sammy Sosa hits No. 592.



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