Yankees resume playoff push in opener with rival Red Sox

If the New York Yankees somehow find their way into the playoffs they may look back to the night when Boston's Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez as the turning point in their season.

Emotions should be running high on Thursday when the Yankees continue their improbable push towards the postseason with the first of four games against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Including its come from behind win that night at Fenway Park back on Aug. 18, New York has won 12 of 17 and heads into this series just 2 1/2 games back of the final wild card spot in the American League, but are eight behind the Red Sox in the AL East.

"I think time is always good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of any remaining emotion. "I think that obviously we know what's at stake, and we have to go out and play the games and win the games. That's the most important thing."

New York heads into this series following a three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox and opens the crucial set with right-hander Ivan Nova, who was rewarded on Wednesday as the American League's Pitcher of the Month for August.

Nova is 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his last six starts, but none were better than his last outing on Saturday when he tossed the first shutout of his career against the Baltimore Orioles, improving him to 8-4 on the year to go along with a 2.88 ERA.

He's 2-1 with a 4.94 ERA in five career starts versus Boston.

Nova may have his hands full on Thursday after an offensive explosion from the Red Sox on Wednesday that saw them hit eight home runs in a 20-4 shellacking of the Detroit Tigers.

David Ortiz went deep twice and knocked in four runs for the Red Sox, who took two of three from the Tigers and have won nine of their last 11 thanks to exploding for a season-high in runs scored.

"It was a rare and outstanding offensive night tonight," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Dempster (8-9) gave up four runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and two walks over six innings for the victory.

On Thursday, the Red Sox turn to righty Jake Peavy, who has won his last two starts and is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in six starts since being acquired from Chicago.

After a complete-game win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Peavy beat his former team, the White Sox, on Saturday, holding them to a pair of runs in seven innings.

Overall, he's 11-5 with a 3.91 ERA.

Boston has won seven of its 12 matchups with the Yankees this season.