Heading into September the Red Sox owned a 1 1/2-game lead on the Yankees in the American League East and sat nine games in front of the Tampa Bay Rays. However, a 5-16 month has left the Red Sox fighting for their postseason lives, as they enter this series out of contention for a division title and just two games in front of the Rays for the wild card.
"We're still in a position to put ourselves in the right spot. That's what we have to focus on," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said after Wednesday's 6-4 loss. "We have to take care of ourselves. And then from there, we'll worry about what happens. We control what we do by playing good baseball."
The Yankees clinched the division on Wednesday with a doubleheader sweep of the Rays coupled Boston's loss to Baltimore.
"We're going to have to fight for everything we get the rest of the way out and make it happen to get where we want to go," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "When that happens, hopefully you have a day off to regroup. We certainly haven't made it very easy for ourselves. That doesn't mean we can't get where we want to go. But we have our work cut out for us."
Going to Yankee Stadium may be just what the doctor ordered for a Red Sox team that has dropped five of their last six games overall. Boston is a perfect 6-0 in the Bronx this year and is 11-4 against the Yankees on the season.
Not to mention the Red Sox have their ace going in left-hander Jon Lester, who is 15-8 on the year, but has lost his last two starts to the Rays. Lester was defeated on Saturday, as he allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings to up his season ERA to 3.15.
Lester, though, has dominated the Yankees over the course of his career, going 8-2 against them with a 3.53 ERA in 16 starts.
New York, meanwhile, will counter with righty Freddy Garcia, who is 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA. Garcia was charged with the loss on Sunday in Toronto, as he surrendered three runs and five hits with three walks in just 4 2/3 innings.
Garcia has pitched to a 6.92 ERA in four outings versus the Red Sox this season, but is 8-4 lifetime against them with a 4.69 ERA in 20 games (19 starts).
One day after securing their 11th American League East title in 14 years, the Yankees committed four errors and found themselves on the wrong end of a 15-8 decision to the Rays on Thursday.
Bartolo Colon (8-10) gave up seven hits and seven runs -- five earned -- over three innings. He's winless in his last nine appearances (0-4).
"It's location, it's movement," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the reason for Colon's struggles. "It's some velocity as well. That's why there's concerns. You keep going forward and continue to evaluate."
The Yanks, who lost for only the second time in their last 12 games at Yankee Stadium, would love nothing more than to play spoiler for the Red Sox this weekend.
"Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me," New York catcher Russell Martin said. "They are fun to play against just because they have a quality team, and they're gritty, and they play hard and stuff, but I'd love to see them lose.
"I hate the Red Sox."