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NEW YORK — For virtually every day in the last month Aaron Rodgers Jersey Youth , either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees woke up in first place in the AL East standings.
Since the wild-card play-in game was added in 2012, the premium is placed on being a division winner and whichever team finishes second in the AL East appears likely to host the wild-card game.
Neither team is ready to focus on playoff scenarios, but the Red Sox and Yankees are anticipating a vibrant atmosphere Friday night for the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
“We know where we’re at,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They’re not getting away. We’re not getting away. It’s half the season. This is a three-game series. We go out there with the same mindset. Win the series.”
The season series is tied at three games apiece.
Boston took two of three April 10-12 when the Yankees began 9-9 and fell 7 1/2 games out. The Yankees took two of three a month later, missing the sweep when J.D. Martinez homered off Dellin Betances in the series finale.
Since the last meeting, the Red Sox (55-27) are 29-16 while the Yankees (52-26) are 26-15. The teams were tied atop the division following the last meeting and the margin has not been more than 2 1/2 games since the last series.
“They’re a great team,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve played some really competitive games with them already. If we’re going to win the division, that’s the team we’re going to have to beat out. They’re a really good opponent chasing after the same thing we’re after and we embrace the competition.”
The Red Sox enter the series on a four-game winning streak and with six wins in their last seven games, a stretch that has seen them get 52 runs while hitting .331 (83-for-251). They scored 22 runs and hit nine homers in a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.
Martinez was quiet in Thursday’s 4-2 win but leads the majors with 25 homers and is hitting .448 (13-for-29) in his last seven games.
Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered Thursday and both enjoyed improved results on the homestand. Devers was 8-for-22 while Bradley was 8-for-17.
“We’re playing well. We’re pitching well. We’re swinging the bats a lot better than 10 days ago Cheap Justin Jones Jersey ,” Cora said “So as always, it should be fun. I’ve been saying it all along since last year: The stadium is alive. The (Yankees) fans are buying into the concept. They love that team.”
The Yankees are returning from a 2-4 road trip through Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. During the trip, the Yankees were blanked twice and scored 17 runs while batting .175 (40-for-229) and going 10-for-57 (.175) with runners in scoring position.
“We feel like we’ve got a really good team, they’ve got a really good team,” Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. “We’ve been right there with them, within a game or two, it seems like all year and it will probably be like that for the next few months, too.”
The Yankees own the majors’ best home record at 29-11 and enter the series with 13 wins in their last 18 home games since the last meeting with the Red Sox.
One player who enjoyed a good trip was Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is hitting .306 this month and batted .417 (10-for-24) on the trip.
Stanton and the rest of the Yankees will contend with three left-handed starters as the Red Sox are slated to start Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale and David Price. The Yankees are 18-5 in games started by lefties and are hitting .262 off southpaw starters.
Rodriguez Cheap Tanner Lee Jersey , who will start Friday, is 9-2 with a 3.86 ERA and is coming off a rare loss. He allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings of Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Despite matching his second-shortest outing of the season, Rodriguez is 6-1 in his last seven starts.
Rodriguez is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees. He started the last meeting on May 10 and held the Yankees to one hit and no runs in five innings while getting eight strikeouts in a 93-pitch outing.
The Yankees will counter with CC Sabathia, whose charitable foundation raised $1 million in a softball game Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia is seeking his 242nd career win, which would break a tie with Herb Pennock for 56th place on the all-time list. He also is making his 524th career start.
Sabathia is coming off two tough-luck losses to the Tampa Bay Rays. After allowing three runs on 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings June 17, Sabathia allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in last Friday’s 2-1 loss.
Sabathia was originally slated to start Wednesday but the Yankees opted to line him up for the Red Sox.
The left-hander is 17-13 with a 4.20 ERA in 40 career starts against Boston and 15-9 with a 4.27 ERA in 33 starts in the rivalry since becoming a Yankee in 2009. He opposed Rodriguez last month and allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings in a game the Red Sox won 5-4.
After this weekend’s series, the teams will next meet Aug 2-5 for a four-game set at Fenway Park.
LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights can exhale a little heading into a pair of tough back-to-back home games starting with the red-hot St. Louis Blues on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Thanks to Nashville’s 5-3 victory over San Jose on Thursday night, the magic number for Vegas to clinch the Pacific Division title is three with five games to go after the second place Sharks (44-24-10) lost for only the second time in 10 games. San Jose plays the final regular-season home game at T-Mobile on Saturday night.
The Golden Knights (48-22-7), who lost at home to Arizona on Wednesday night Mitchell Trubisky Jersey , have sputtered down the stretch, going 3-3-2 over their last eight games and 7-6-3 in their last 16 games including home losses to bottom-feeders such as Ottawa and the Coyotes.
Particularly frustrating for coach Gerard Gallant is his squad, which seemed to wear teams down with four lines playing with intensity for 60 minutes, has started slowly in each of its last three games, managing five first period shots against the Coyotes after firing six in the opening frame of a 4-1 win over Colorado on Monday. This after the Golden Knights were blanked for over 41 minutes to start an eventual 2-1 shootout loss to the Avs on Saturday in Denver.
“You start off bad, then all of a sudden you get a little (ticked) off, and you start to play your game,” Gallant said of the slow starts. “That shouldn’t happen with our team.
“It’s bothering me a lot. We had a great first game of the road trip in San Jose (a 2-1 overtime loss March 22). We had an unbelievable first period. (But) the last three since we’ve been chasing the game every game. That’s three in a row and we have to fix it.”
The Golden Knights have been outshot 92-57 in the first period of their last seven games.
“It comes from between your ears more than anything,” forward Erik Haula Authentic Customized Panthers Jerseys , who scored his 29th goal of the season in Wednesday night’s loss, said. “I wish I knew the answer and I would fix it immediately. … The mentality has just gotta be a little bit different going into the game.”
St. Louis (43-28-5) comes into Friday night’s game with a season-best six-game win streak and has won eight of its last nine games. The Blues are tied with Anaheim and one in front of Colorado in the Western Conference wild card race.
A big reason for the strong finish has been the play of goalie Jake Allen who is 8-1-0 in his last nine starts. Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal at 2:33 in overtime snapped San Jose’s eight-game win streak on Tuesday and moved the Blues into wild-card position.
“We just know we need the points,” Blues center Brayden Schenn told NHL.com. “We’re getting good saves at key times, guys are playing defense, guys are stepping up, and when we get the puck, we’re going on the attack because we know we need the extra point.”
The teams have split the two previous meetings with Vegas winning 3-2 in overtime Oct. 21 at T-Mobile Arena and the Blues picking up a 2-1 home win Jan. 4.
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