BOSTON – Already with the most wins in the American League, the Boston Red Sox will get a big boost to start the second half of the season.
“The most important thing for us is that we get off the road, we get back into this ballpark and feed off the energy of the people here in Fenway,” Manager John Farrell said Thursday as his team went through an optional workout before a weekend series with the New York Yankees.
“We’re looking forward to the start of this homestand.”
The Red Sox, an AL-best 58-39 at the break after winning just 69 games last season, play 13 of their next 16 games at home, where they are 31-16.
The three games against the Yankees are followed by four with Tampa Bay. A three-game stop in Baltimore precedes three-game home series with Seattle and Arizona.
Boston has been in first place since May 27, but losses at Oakland in the last two games of a 5-5 West Coast trip knocked the lead down to 2½ games from a season-high 5½ games July 5.
Now the Yankees, making their first 2013 visit, come in six games out and in fourth place, still looking for answers to their lack of offense.
“It’s going to be exciting,” first baseman Mike Napoli said of the first home series with the Yanks. “I haven’t experienced that yet. I’m pretty sure the atmosphere will be (great). I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure (Friday) is going to be a fun day.”
Left-hander Felix Doubront faces Andy Pettitte on Friday. The Red Sox are 4-2 against the Yankees this season. John Lackey and Jon Lester also will start for the Red Sox, while the Yankees counter with Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia.
As far as the Red Sox are concerned, more of what happened in the first half will keep the team involved in the race.
“I think we did a really good job in the first half of showing how deep this team and organization is,” Jonny Gomes said. “It’s kind of gone unseen that (David Ortiz) didn’t start with us (on the disabled list), (Clay) Buchholz has been down, (Stephen) Drew’s been down, Shane’s (Victorino) gone down for a little bit; we’ve hit some injuries.
“I think it would be nice to get everyone back as a whole running down the stretch.”
Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched since June 8, has right shoulder bursitis and didn’t throw during the All-Star break. He’ll be examined Friday.