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Yankees vs. Red Sox will decide the AL East

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The Yankees enter a make or break stretch of the season.

MLB: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox are hot. Winners of eight in a row, the preseason AL East favorites look set to run away with the division crown. Boston has opened a four-game lead over the Yankees and everything seems to be clicking into place. Deadline acquisition and former Yankee error machine Eduardo Nuñez is hitting .422 with a 224 OPS+ while prized prospect Rafael Devers has come up and hit .319/.396/.553 and looks like a burgeoning star. Meanwhile the Yankees are 4-6 in their last 10 and have been inconsistent at best.

While the sinking Yankees look like a long shot to claim the division, they have a real chance to turn the tide. After finishing up the series against the Blue Jays tonight, the Yankees enter an all important stretch of the season. The Red Sox come to town for a three-game set starting Friday before the Yankees travel to Boston the following Friday, making six of the Yankees’ next 11 games against their bitter rivals.

If the Yankees get steamrolled by the streaking Red Sox they can effectively wave goodbye to any chance at the division title. Simply put, the Yankees must play well against Boston or the best they can hope for is the dreaded Wild Card Game.

While it might not seem like a good time to run into one of the hottest teams in baseball, the upcoming games against Boston provide a massive opportunity to gain ground in the division race. The best way to catch a hot team is to beat them yourself. If the Yankees can come away with four of the six upcoming head to head match ups they will be not only gain ground and confidence, but they will destroy the moment of the seemingly unstoppable Red Sox with another four-game series to come.

Looking ahead to the weekend’s series, the Yankee right-handed bats simply must wake up. The Red Sox are set to start Eduardo Rodriguez, Drew Pomeranz, and Chris Sale, all of whom are lefties. The Yankee lineups will be stocked with right-handed hitters and they simply must perform with the platoon advantage. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are the key guys, but the returning Aaron Hicks, Todd and Clint Frazier, and even Garrett Cooper must all play their part.

If the Yankees can get to the Boston starters they should have the advantage late in games. Although they brought in Addison Reed at the deadline, the Red Sox bullpen still pales in comparison to the Yankees’ which has been MLB’s best since acquiring David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. The Red Sox hold the advantage whenever Chris Sale toes the rubber, but Luis Severino has been almost just as good and he is set to go on Saturday while Sonny Gray will have to wait for the next series to face Boston.

While some say the rivalry has lost some of its sheen in recent years, Yankees/Red Sox is back to being a marquee matchup and deciding playoff races. The Red Sox are hot as can be, but all bets are off when its Boston vs. New York. The Yankees did not revamp their roster in July to hope for a shot at a Wild Card Game, but the road to the division goes through Boston. Just like the old days it’s Yankees/Red Sox for all the marbles. I hope the young Bombers are ready.