If the New York Yankees can get past their likely initial hurdle in the postseason, Michael Pineda may be worthy of getting the call in their second playoff game.
Pineda is unbeaten in five starts this month and has dominated the Boston Red Sox ahead of Tuesday night's contest at Yankee Stadium.
New York will welcome back Masahiro Tanaka on Wednesday, and the ace will likely start in next week's AL wild-card game.
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Pineda (12-8, 3.99 ERA) would be a good choice to start a division series if New York advances based on how he has pitched this month. He improved to 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his last five outings by yielding one run in six innings Thursday for a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
"Everything is working good, I'm happy," Pineda said.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts against Boston since joining the Yankees, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two this year. David Ortiz is 2 for 12 against him, Mookie Betts is 2 for 9 and Dustin Pedroia is 1 for 7. Xander Bogaerts has enjoyed the most success in this matchup for the Red Sox, going 4 for 10.
New York (86-70) still has work left to clinch a berth after losing 5-1 in Monday's opener of this four-game set. The Yankees are close to elimination in the AL East race, trailing Toronto by five games with six left.
They have scored three runs or fewer five times in a 3-3 stretch.
"It's something that you go through and you know that eventually you're going to break out and break out in a big way and we need to do that," manager Joe Girardi said.
Brett Gardner is the AL's worst hitter since the All-Star break with a .203 average, Brian McCann is second at .209 and Alex Rodriguez is also among the worst in the league at .216.
''You're going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Right now we feel like we are battling. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to put good innings together,'' said Carlos Beltran, who is in a 2-for-15 slump.
McCann figures to be back in the lineup after giving way Monday to backup catcher John Ryan Murphy.
Boston will start Rick Porcello (8-14, 5.04), who has baseball's third-worst ERA.
Some Yankees hitters may welcome this matchup. Jacoby Ellsbury is 11 for 21 with four homers off Porcello and Beltran is 7 for 15.
Porcello is 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA in three career starts at Yankee Stadium. He pitched well the lone time he faced New York this year, yielding three runs - one earned - over eight innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts in a 3-1 home loss Sept. 1.
Boston (76-80) seeks a season-high fifth straight victory. Betts doubled twice and rookie Travis Shaw had a two-run homer among his three hits Monday.
Bogaerts was 2 for 4 and is hitting .384 in his last 17 games.
New York remains one win shy of becoming the first AL franchise to reach 10,000 in the regular season.