W2W4: Yankees and Red Sox renew the rivalry in the Bronx


Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees haven’t gotten to a particularly hot start out of the gate. They dropped two of three in Houston, beat the Toronto Blue Jays in two of three meetings, then lost the final two games of their home opening series against the Baltimore Orioles this week.

And the last two losses didn’t make things any batter — a 14-5 blowout on Tuesday, then a one-run loss last night, a game they had multiple chance to win late.

But if you’re trying to look on the bright side, it’s only been nine games. There is still a lot of baseball left to be played — 153 games left, to be exact. Of course you want to win every game you play, but don’t won’t start becoming must-wins for another couple of months.

However, with the Orioles leaving, the Yankees will now welcome the Boston Red Sox to the Bronx for a four-game series that starts tonight at 7:05 pm ET. Going up against their biggest rival, every game is considered a must-win in the eyes of every true Yankees fan.

The Red Sox are riding into New York on a two-game winning streak after taking the final two games of their series against the Texas Rangers. They also head into Thursday night’s contest at 4-5, the same record as the Bombers.

Tonight’s game will be the first of 19 meetings between the two teams this season, so here are three things to watch for:

**Ellsbury faces his former club: Jacoby Ellsbury has never seem what it’s like to play against the Red Sox in his career, only because he’s always been on their side. For the first time since Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, Ellsbury will be on the field with the Red Sox once again, except coming out of the other dugout, in a different uniform.

A lot like this past series against the Orioles when Brian Roberts faced his long-time club for the first time, Ellsbury will be doing the same.

The Red Sox selected Ellsbury in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and when he finally made it to the big leagues, he was one of their most dangerous weapons for almost seven years.

“I mean, you spend nine years with one organization, and you’re drafted by them, went through the Minor League system and everything, it’ll be different [to play against them] obviously,” Ellsbury told MLB.com back in March. “But I’m definitely excited for the opportunity I have here. I’m definitely blessed to play in that organization. I won two championships. Those are the memories I’m going to have, all the positive stuff. But yeah, I feel very fortunate to be over here with these guys, it’s a great organization. These guys are hungry, wanting to win.”

After starting the season 0-for-7, Ellsbury has been hot at the plate for the Yankees in the early going. He’ll be bringing his .414 batting average to the table Thursday night when he faces Clay Bucholtz.

**Pineda Time: A night after Masahiro Tanaka made his Yankee Stadium debut, striking out 10 and taking the no-decision in the 5-4 loss, Michael Pineda will make his first start in the Bronx since being acquired by the Yankees over two years ago. He’ll be getting the ball for the Yanks tonight.

Pineda made his first start as a Yankee last Saturday in Toronto against the Jays, holding them to one run on five hits over six innings.

A lot like Tanaka, there is a lot of intrigue over what this kid can bring to the table this season since he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues full-time since 2011.

Pineda will be the facing the Sox for the first time in a while. It’ll surely be a tough test for not on him, but also for Boston, since no player other than Dustin Pedroia has more than three at-bats, lifetime, against the right-hander.

 **Never nervous Yangervis: Probably the best story coming out of the Bronx right now is the hot start Yangervis Solarte is off to right now. A 26-year-old that had bounced around a couple of organizations before landing with the Yankees this winter, he finally got to make his major league debut in the second game of the season and he’s making the most of his opportunity.

He’s played in seven of the Yankees’ eight games so far, hitting a team-high .429 (12-for-28), with a major league leading six doubles to this point. He’s also driven in seven runs, which also leads the team. And he’s reached base safely in all eight games he’s played.

It’s funny to think that he almost didn’t even make the team out of spring training. It seems almost a lock that Eduardo Nunez would make the club mostly because he was on the 40-man roster coming into camp, but Solarte outplayed Nunez in the spring, and it wasn’t even close. The Yanks took a chance on him, and it’s worked out very well, as Solarte is hitting the ball just was well as he did down in Florida.

More importantly, with Mark Teixeira going on the DL, it’s given Joe Girardi more of a reason to keep him in the lineup for a little longer.

Originally, the plan would have been to platoon Solarte with Kelly Johnson at third base, but now with Teixeira down, Johnson will get to play a lot more first base, leaving Solarte by himself over at third. The Yankees might have been worried about that happening, not knowing what Solarte would do on a daily basis, but now that he’s mashing the ball, it seems like a goo thing for the club.

Series pitching matchups:

Thurs., 4/10 vs. Boston: RHP Michael Pineda (0-1, 1.50) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (0-0, 12.46 ERA) 7:05 p.m. YES/MLBN

Fri., 4/11 vs. Boston: LHP CC Sabathia (1-1, 7.50) vs. LHP Jon Lester (0-2, 2.51 ERA) 7:05 p.m. YES/MLBN

Sat., 4/12 vs. Boston: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.92) vs. RHP John Lackey (2-0, 1.38 ERA) 1:05 p.m. YES/FS1

Sun., 4/13 vs. Boston: RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 8.68) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (1-1, 9.00 ERA) 8:05 p.m. ESPN

Twitter for series coverage: @EmpireWritesBck