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Red Sox start Sale in opener vs. Yankees

BOSTON -- Chris Sale got his first look at the New York part of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry when he pitched for Boston last Sunday night in the Bronx.

He noticed the difference from the days he pitched for the Chicago White Sox.

"You can feel it," Sale told WEEI this week. "People in New York have never been really nice to me, but they hate me now. I heard some pretty interesting things out in the bullpen last time warming up. I don't go to New York to make friends."

On Friday night, Sale faces the Yankees for the fourth time this season, the third time at Fenway Park, as the rivals start another three-game series.

The Red Sox planned ahead -- with good reason -- when they had Sale on target to pitch in all three series between the teams in a 23-day span.

He is 4-2 with a ridiculous 1.18 ERA in 13 career outings (10 starts) against the Yankees. He is 0-1 against New York this year with a 1.19 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.

Sale limited the Yankees to a run on four hits and two walks while striking out 12 in seven innings during a no-decision Sunday.

Sale, the American League Cy Young Award front-runner who is also being mentioned in the MVP talk, enters the game with a 14-4 season record and a 3.94 ERA. The Red Sox scored five runs in his four losses.

Jordan Montgomery, who pitched a strong game against Sale on Sunday, allowing one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings, will again face the Boston ace Friday night.

The Red Sox held a 5 1/2 game lead on the Yankees after Boston's 3-2 win Sunday. Rookie Rafael Devers homered off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning, and Andrew Benintendi delivered the go-ahead single in the 10th.

The Yankees are now four games back after sweeping four games against the New York Mets.

"These are really important games for us because the clock is ticking in a sense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after his team's 7-5 win at Citi Field on Thursday night. "The season is, I'm not sure how many games we got, 40-something left, but they're really important."

Boston's lead might had down to three games if the Red Sox didn't rally for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to complete a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. Mookie Betts delivered the game-winning single in the ninth to give Boston a 5-4 victory.

It was the Red Sox's ninth walk-off win of the season, tied for the major league lead.

Now, the rivalry is renewed.

"Let's win," said infielder Eduardo Nunez, who along with Devers has invigorated the Boston offense. Nunez came over from the San Francisco Giants in a July trade. "They have a really good team, and they have good hitting and good pitching, but we do, too. We'll see how it goes."

The teams play again in the Bronx Aug. 31-Sept. 4.

Montgomery, a young pitcher whose innings are being watched, is 7-6 with a 3.94 ERA but hasn't won since July 25. In his past two starts, he has worked 10 1/3 innings and allowed just five hits and two runs, walking three and striking out 11.

He has a pair of no-decisions against the Red Sox in his brief career.

Like many opponents, the current Yankees have some ugly numbers against Sale.

Aaron Judge is 0-for-7 with six strikeouts, Brett Gardner 2-for-16 (.125) and Gary Sanchez and Ronald Torreyes both 2-for-11 (.182). Aaron Hicks is 7-for-19 (.368) and Chase Headley 7-for-23 (.304) with two homers.

No Red Sox hitter has more than six at-bats against Montgomery.

Betts is 1-for-6 (.167).

The Yankees will bring CC Sabathia off the disabled list to pitch Saturday game but won't have Luis Severino in the Boston series. Severino beat the Mets on Thursday.

New York, which has been resting the struggling Chapman, had to use Dellin Betances to get the last three outs Thursday after a Curtis Granderson grand slam made it a two-run game in the ninth.

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