Friday July 06, 2012 | 05:57 AM

Five things to look for in the Red Sox-Yankees series

1. Offense. Boston just came off a 2-5 road trip where the Red Sox scored a total of 14 runs in seven games. Will the Boston bats wake up?

2. Second base. How will Boston replace Dustin Pedroia who appears out with another thumb injury? (And who will cover third if Will Middlebrooks’ hamstring strain has not improved?).

3. Darnell. What will new Yankees outfielder Darnell McDonald do to the Red Sox? It’s a concern after the damage inflicted by ex-Boston outfielders Brandon Moss, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick in Oakland’s sweep of the Red Sox.

4. Pitching. Without Sabathia and Pettitte, the Yankees are still in good shape, throwing Kuroda (3.17), Phil Hughes (9-6), the rebounding Freddy Garcia (2.08 in last 3 starts) and Ivan Nova (9-3). For Boston, Franklin Morales (1-1, 2.51) looks like its best starter, ahead of the unpredictable Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, and the sliding Felix Doubront.

5. The standings. Those Red Sox fans who think the glass is half empty and draining quickly will notice that Boston could be 11.5 games behind the Yankees after Monday.

Yankees 49-32
Orioles (44-38, 5.5 games behind)
Rays 43-40, 7 behind
Red Sox 42-40, 7.5 behind
Blue Jays 42-41, 8 behind

In Pawtucket’s game Thursday, it’s worth noting that infielder Pedro Ciriaco did not play (coming to Boston?) and reliever Daniel Bard faced four batters: HBP, 2B, HBP, 1B.

Portland’s Chris Hernandez retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced (the one reaching on an error). But he gave up 4 hits, 4 runs and 2 walks in the 5th. He hung in there and lasted 6 innings: 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K’s.

Carl Crawford (triple) and Ryan Sweeney (single) got in their rehab work.

Sea Dogs starter Anthony Ranaudo, who hinted that his arm was tired in his last start, was placed on the disabled list.

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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