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Dueling Aces on Saturday as Jon Lester Faces Masahiro Tanaka

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Jon Lester allowed just two earned runs his last time out, but the Sox blew a lead to deny the lefthander his ninth win of the year. Lance Iversen/USA Today Sports

The Red Sox got shut down by Vidal Nuno and the Yankees on Friday, and the road doesn’t get much easier on Saturday, as the Sox will have to deal with 11-2 Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese rookie who has taken the American League by storm.

The Sox will send their own ace to the hill, as Jon Lester gets the nod in the Bronx. He’s been one of the shining spots in what has been an otherwise painful Red Sox season, going 8-7 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts. Lester went 7 2/3 innings in his last outing, allowing two earned runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts to the A’s on June 22, receiving a no-decision in a game the Sox won 7-6 in 10 innings.

Lester has started against the Yankees 28 times in his career, going 12-6 with a 3.96 ERA. This season, he’s already faced them twice; his last start against them in New York saw him allow two runs over 6 2/3 innings en route to a 4-2 Red Sox win.

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The four hitters on the Yankees that have faced Lester the most in their careers are Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, and Ichiro Suzuki. Jeter (23-for-68, .338) and Ichiro (18-for-53, .340) have hit over .300 against Lester in their careers. Teixeira (13-for-52, .250) and Roberts (12-for-51, .235) haven’t fared as well.

Since making his major league debut on April 4, Tanaka has been on a tear, leaving opponents in his wake. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 15 starts, with a 2.11 ERA complimenting his league-leading 11 wins. He gave up three runs in seven innings against the Orioles in his last start, as the O’s would go on to beat the Yankees 8-0.

In his first career appearance against the Red Sox on April 22, Tanaka pitched very well, allowing just two runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings with no walks and seven strikeouts as the Bombers beat the Sox 9-3. In that game, Mike Napoli was the only Sox batter to have multiple hits, while Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and A.J. Pierzynski all reached base once.