The Yankees have changed, writes Kevin Kernan of the Post: "The days of the Red Sox challenging [Alex] Rodriguez physically or verbally, ... are done. The Yankees finally have A-Rod's back at Fenway and everywhere else." Garry Sheffield opens his yap:
We're going to bring our gold, our jewel in there, which is A-Rod. We're going to see how the chips fall this time. That's our man and we know he's our man. We're going to look out for him when he's in a situation like that. ... When he's in a hostile environment, we've got to make sure he's comfortable because it helps our team. [And if something like the Varitek incident happens again?] That's why I say it's going to be different. We're going to make sure that Alex is taken care of.Kernan adds:
Rodriguez is appreciative of the backup. "We've been through a lot together, a lot of guys don't know half the stuff we've been through as a team," he said, offering a rare view inside the Yankees' closed world.Rare view? How does that quote offer -- in any way, shape or form -- a glimpse into the Yankees' closed world? Slappy says nothing, hints at nothing, offers no insight.
A decidedly mellow George Steinbrenner said (through his spokesman): "I'm looking forward to the Red Sox series. It's a tough team and I hope the Yankees do our very best." ... That's all he's got? He hopes the Yankees do their best?!? Sad. Very sad.
There is a nice feature on David Ortiz in the Times:
Since the beginning of 2003, Ortiz has batted .335 with 12 homers and 33 runs batted in against the Yankees. No one has hit more homers against the Yankees in that period. ... Ortiz has had 164 at-bats against [the Yankees] in the past two and a half seasons and has not been hit by a pitch. ... "He used to have holes on the inside," [Mariano] Rivera said. "You'd go outside? Holes. Now they're not there anymore."While Boston limped into the break by losing eight of its last 13 games, New York has won seven of its last eight games, prompting one Post columnist to talk about a sweep. ... A more realistic look can be found here: "[D]on't forget, this is only the start of a make or break 11-game trip that moves to Texas and finishes in Anaheim. Making the sojourn extremely slippery is a suspect Yankees' pitching staff and the Yankees' 17-21 road ledger."
After this series, Boston hosts Tampa Bay (3) before hitting the road to play the White Sox (4) and Devil Rays (3). ... The Red Sox will play 43 of their remaining 75 games at Fenway Park. Since the beginning of the 2003 season, Boston is 132-68 (.666) at home.
Arroyo / Mussina at 7:00.