Sox prepare for Round 1 with Yanks

Sox prepare for Round 1 with Yanks

Yes, it is still April. But when the Red Sox and Yankees face off, the calendar tends to become less relevant.

When the rivals square off for the first time in 2009 with Friday night's meeting at Fenway, you can be sure that the atmosphere will feel more like October.

Doesn't it always when these two American League East heavyweights meet up?

"It's going to be fun," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "Obviously, they have a great team and we feel we do too. Anytime you play those guys, they're going to be long games and exciting games. I think everyone is looking forward to it."

While the Yankees will be given their usual hostile treatment by the Fenway faithful, the player who figures to get the loudest round of jeers is Mark Teixeira, the star first baseman who chose New York over Boston as a free agent over the winter.

"I expect heavy boos. I expect nothing less from those fans," Teixeira said. "I'm sure that [the Boston fans] are disappointed and that's natural. That's to be expected."

Fittingly, the Red Sox and Yankees enter this showdown with identical records. Of course, the Red Sox had to reel off seven wins in a row to get to this point.

The rivals figure to be on a collision course all year long, one that should also include the Tampa Bay Rays.

"It's always fun to play those guys," said Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. "When you put two competitive teams on the field, it's always going to make for an interesting game. We definitely have two teams that are going to compete, and two teams that have a lot of talent on them. It should be a fun series like always."

The one missing ingredient will be Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is still on the rehab trail from right hip surgery.

Will it be different for the Red Sox not seeing No. 13 at third base and in the heart of the Yankees' order?

"Of course," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "When you don't have the best player in the game in your lineup, it makes a difference, doesn't it?"

All three pitching matchups are compelling, beginning with Friday night's opener, when Jon Lester faces Joba Chamberlain.

"He threw the ball great last time and I expect him to have a great year and keep going forward," Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis said of Lester. "He's one of those guys that can dominate a game if his stuff is on."

Pitching matchup
BOS: LHP Jon Lester (1-2, 5.50 ERA)
After two shaky starts to open the season, Lester rebounded nicely in his last outing, firing seven shutout innings in a win over the Orioles. The lefty fanned nine while walking two. Last year against New York, Lester was 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in two starts. He continues to be a dominant pitcher at Fenway Park, where he is 17-3 in his career.

NYY: RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 5.06 ERA)
The highlight of Chamberlain's brief big league career as a starter came at Fenway Park last July 25, when he handcuffed the Red Sox for three hits in seven scoreless innings, walking one and striking out nine. The Yankees would love to see another one like that this time around. Five walks and quite a few more hard-hit balls hurt Chamberlain in his second start of the season, which lasted just 4 2/3 innings. He threw 93 pitches, just 46 of which were strikes, and though there was nothing wrong with Chamberlain's stuff -- his mid-90s fastball and sharp slider were both on display -- inefficiency plagued him. He is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in six games (two starts) against the Red Sox in his career.

Tidbits
Former Sox outfielder Johnny Damon is 5-for-12 lifetime against Lester with a homer and three RBIs ... If the Red Sox win Friday night, it will mark their longest winning streak since a 12-game run from June 16-29, 2006 ... The Boston bullpen has allowed just one run over its last 17 2/3 innings ... The Red Sox will make a roster move before Friday's game to replace OF-1B Chris Carter, who was informed after Wednesday's doubleheader that he is headed back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 2-1, 3.79) vs. Yankees (A.J. Burnett, 2-0, 3.20), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Justin Masterson, 1-0, 3.18) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 2-0, 2.53), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 2-1, 2.45) at Indians (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.