A weekend with the potential to be season-defining could not have gotten off to a better start for the New York Yankees.
First, the club took care of its own business Friday night with an 8-3 victory over the host Boston Red Sox to kick off a high-stakes three-game series. With the win, the Yankees (87-67) moved within a game of the Red Sox (88-66) for the top wild card in the American League.
As an added bonus, the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Minnesota Twins later in the night, ensuring New York a two-game lead on the second wild card. The Seattle Mariners are also two games back.
“We’re definitely aware, but if we take care of business it doesn’t matter,” Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton said of the standings picture. “If we get the win ourselves, then we’re in the best position possible that we can control. So, we secure our win and then see what everyone else is doing.”
New York gets the chance to tie its longtime rival for the top wild card in a late-afternoon showdown Saturday. The Yankees will send left-hander Nestor Cortes (2-2, 2.79 ERA) to the mound opposite Red Sox righty Nick Pivetta (9-7, 4.63).
The Yankees seek their fifth straight victory. The Red Sox look to bounce back from having a seven-game winning streak snapped with Friday’s loss.
In that contest, Stanton slugged a three-run home run to blow the game open in the third inning, giving the visitors a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Stanton finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs, while Gleyber Torres added three hits and a solo homer.
The two have been key to New York’s rebound from a seven-game skid earlier this month. Stanton has six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 12 games, while Torres is riding a 10-game hitting streak.
For the Red Sox, the setback was just their 13th in their last 43 games at home.
“Right now, we are in a fight with a lot of teams around us, and (Saturday) we have to come out here and play a good game,” said manager Alex Cora.
Rafael Devers was a bright spot with a three-run blast for his 35th home run of the season. Also encouraging was a scoreless inning pitched by former closer Matt Barnes, who punched out two as he continues to try to regain his All-Star form from the first half.
Pivetta gets the nod for Boston seeking his first victory since Aug. 13. He has allowed at least three runs in four of his last five outings, including three over 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision versus the Baltimore Orioles last time out.
Pivetta was shelled for four runs over 1 2/3 innings in his lone start against the Yankees this season (Aug. 18). It was his second career appearance against the club.
Cortes will be making his first career start against the Red Sox after allowing 11 runs over 10 innings (9.90 ERA) across six relief appearances against Boston. He surrendered three runs in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Texas Rangers in his most recent performance.
–Field Level Media