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Thu, Sep 13, 2012 - 7:10 PM ET
 

Yankees-Red Sox Preview

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Derek Jeter is fine, and the New York Yankees are relieved.

They'll feel even better if the superstar shortstop can help them regain sole possession of the AL East lead.

A day after avoiding a scare, Jeter is expected to be in the lineup as the Yankees attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month Thursday night against the last-place Boston Red Sox.

New York (80-62) is tied with Baltimore for the division lead, three games ahead of Tampa Bay, which it hosts for a three-game series this weekend.

"It's playoff baseball," manager Joe Girardi said. "You're playing in the playoffs right now. That's the way it is for us."

The Yankees maintained a share of the top spot in the East by beating Boston 5-4 on Wednesday following a 4-3 defeat in the opener of this three-game.

Despite the win, New York was given a huge scare in the eighth when Jeter pulled up limping after running out a grounder. He claimed it was a sprained ankle, while Girardi said it was a bone bruise.

It may not matter because Jeter said he'll be back in the lineup for the series finale.

"It's really not a thing," Jeter told reporters, refusing to confirm any details about the injury. "They just said, 'Put ice on it (and) come back tomorrow.'"

The Yankees could surely use him in their bid to win back-to-back games for the first time since sweeping Texas in a three-game set from Aug. 13-15 since he's hitting .447 with six RBIs and seven runs in eight games. He also has three hits and two RBIs in this series.

Jeter is batting .377 with 17 runs over his last 18 meetings with the Red Sox, including a .422 average in 10 visits to Fenway Park.

Curtis Granderson is looking to build on his two-homer, three-RBI performance from Wednesday. His 37 home runs are among baseball's leaders, and he's connected for five of them while plating 10 runs with a .340 average against the Red Sox this year.

Phil Hughes (14-12, 4.13 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound in an effort to win at Fenway Park for the first time since Oct. 2, 2010. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 10.80 ERA in four games - three starts - since.

He lost his most recent visit there July 7, giving up five runs - three earned - and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-5 defeat. However, he's won both subsequent matchups at home behind a 1.93 ERA.

Hughes beat the Red Sox again Aug. 17 despite yielding four unearned runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-4 victory.

He ended his career-high five-game road losing streak Friday, while two of the three runs he gave up were earned in six innings of an 8-5 win at Baltimore.

"I treated it like any other game," Hughes said. "I tried to pitch the best ball game I could. That doesn't really change start to start."

Boston, which has dropped 12 of 14, is expected to counter with Felix Doubront (10-8, 5.21) again.

The left-hander started opposite Hughes on July 7, and got the victory while allowing four runs and four hits with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

Doubront is 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts against the Yankees, but he enters this matchup with an 0-4 record and 8.27 ERA in seven starts.

He's especially struggled over his last two outings, getting tagged for 10 runs and 12 hits - three homers - in seven innings.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will likely complete the battery after finishing a single shy of the cycle Wednesday, going 3 for 3 while hitting his career-high 24th homer.

Tagged: Red Sox, Yankees, Derek Jeter, Phil Hughes

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