Yankees vs. Red Sox: Preview of Opening Night

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sabathia beckett headshots.pngThe Yankees and Red Sox will open the 2010 baseball season this evening with a game under the lights at Fenway Park.  It will be televised on ESPN2, while women’s college basketball teams from UConn and Baylor duke it out on ESPN.  That’s a blog post for a different day.  Here’s a look at tonight’s projected starters and lineups:

YANKEES

On the hill: CC Sabathia

The big lefty finished 19-8 last year with a 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 34 starts, rewarding the Yankees for investing a monstrous contract in him during the 2009 offseason.  He’s the ace of baseball’s most successful franchise and will look to get off to a positive start in 2010.  Sabathia was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA against the Red Sox last season and held their powerful lineup to a .172 collective batting average.

Lineup:

SS Derek Jeter
DH Nick Johnson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
LF Brett Gardner

RED SOX

On the hill: Josh Beckett

Beckett and the Red Sox are inching closer and closer to inking a four-year contract extension thought to be worth around $68 million, or about $17 million annually.  The 29-year-old was 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 2009 and will try to put his value on display this evening against the Yankees.  He struggled against the Bombers last season, allowing 34 hits and 19 earned runs in five starts (32 innings).

Lineup:

LF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
C Victor Martinez
1B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
3B Adrian Beltre
RF J.D. Drew
CF Mike Cameron
SS Marco Scutaro

There’s no shame in getting far too worked up for Opening Day.  It’s silly, sure, but it’s only natural.  The winter is long and rough in a lot of baseball cities and the arrival of the regular season tends to warm the soul, if not the actual ballparks in which over 2,500 games will be played during the next seven months.  Tonight, it all begins with a singular but intriguing matchup between two longtime rivals.  Let’s friggin’ do this.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.