The Red Sox start their final series of the year on Friday night when the Yankees come to Boston for Derek Jeter‘s last-ever games in the major leagues. Knuckleballer Steven Wright will get the start against New York’s Chris Capuano.
Pitching in place of Rubby De La Rosa, Wright (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will be making his first start of the season with the Red Sox. The last time Wright pitched this year was three innings out of the bullpen on Saturday against the Orioles. He gave up three hits, one run and struck out six.
Though he has not made a start in the big leagues this season, Wright has one relief outing where he pitched five innings. Wright struck out six and allowed just three baserunners and no runs over five innings on Sept. 7 against the Blue Jays at home. This performance came during fellow knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s start. Dickey got the win, but he said he was impressed with Wright’s pitching.
“To be honest, he had a better knuckleball than I did tonight,” Dickey said. “Our velocities are a little different. We had a light wind at my back, which made it tough to make it move the way I wanted, but it was moving enough to get off the barrels today and I made some big pitches when I needed them.”
Wright’s game plan against a powerful Blue Jays lineup was simple: Just throw strikes.
“It felt good to get out there. I was just trying to throw strikes, as many strikes as I could, then hope to put it in play with some weak contact so I could try to go as deep as I can,” Wright said.
Wright made one start in 2013, coming against the Astros in August. He lasted just one inning and was charged for three runs. This season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, the right-hander pitched to a 5-5 record and a 3.41 ERA in 15 starts.
Wright has never faced the Yankees in his brief major league career.
Capuano (2-4, 4.67 ERA) began his 2014 season with the Red Sox out of the bullpen. In 28 relief outings, he had a 4.55 ERA and a 1-1 record before he was traded to the Rockies. After a brief stint with Colorado’s Triple-A affiliate, the left-hander was acquire by the Yankees, who had a depleted pitching rotation.
Since joining the Yankees, he’s won two games in 11 starts. Last Saturday against the division rival Blue Jays, Capuano was tagged for four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Yankees held an early lead, but a three-run sixth inning ended Capuano’s day.
“We’ve got a lead right there, we’re in the second half of the ball game, so that’s tough,” Capuano said after the game. “You hate to let a game get away from you when you’re kind of cruising like that.”
Capuano has not fared well in two starts against Boston this season. He allowed four runs in each start against the Red Sox, once on Sept. 4 and the other on Aug. 1. If Koji Uehara had not blown the save, Capuano would have a 0-2 record vs. Boston this season.
David Ross, Allen Craig and David Ortiz all have some success against the left-hander, as each has two home runs against him.
Yankees vs. Wright (RHP)
Chris Young has one walk in two plate appearances against Wright, while Brendan Ryan is 0-for-2 against the knuckleballer.
Red Sox vs. Capuano (LHP)
David Ross (19 career plate appearances): .278 average/.316 OBP/.722 SLG, 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Allen Craig (16): .533/.563/1.200, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Xander Bogaerts (7): .286/.286/.286
Brock Holt (7): .333/.333/1.667, 1 home run, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Will Middlebrooks (7): .286/.286/.429, 1 double, 3 strikeouts
Mike Napoli (7): .429/.429/.571, 1 double 1 RBI
Mookie Betts (6): .333/.333/.333
David Ortiz (5): .600/.600/1.800, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs
Jemile Weeks (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
Yoenis Cespedes and Christian Vazquez are both 0-for-2 against Capuano.