Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester delivers in the...

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester delivers in the first inning against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 25, 2010) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

As if the Yankees didn’t have enough problems, what with a sputtering offense, a four-game losing streak and the situation involving popular veteran Jorge Posada -- and the dueling stories about why he took himself out of the lineup. Posada said his back was stiff, general manager Brian Cashman said there is no injury.

Now, they have to face Jon Lester.

If the Yankees are at their best when they face their biggest challenges, they are right in line for the 8 p.m. ESPN game tonight. Lester is the nominal ace of the Red Sox staff, and has pitched well this season, although Josh Beckett has pitched better. Red Sox manager Terry Francona thought so much of him that he decided during the winter to name Lester his Opening Day starter. He made the announcement directly to Lester, by text, while the lefthander was on a hunting trip.

“I think I was in a deer stand,” Lester said earlier this year.

Lester was unbeaten (3-0) against the Yankees last season and is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA overall so far in 2011. “He’s got good stuff, man. He’s a horse,” Dustin Pedroia said.

The good news for the Yankees is that Freddy Garcia is starting tonight and he has been terrific (2-2, 2.61). Plus, the Yankees still are two games ahead of the Red Sox.

A possible bad omen, though, is that they might have awakened Pedroia. The former American League Most Valuable Player, who missed much of last year because of surgery and has been slumping most of this year, went 3-for-4 in Boston’s 6-0 win last night.


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