Red Sox-Yankees Preview

The stakes will be much higher if the New York Yankees are back in the Bronx next week.

Until then, they’d just like to clinch a playoff spot.

CC Sabathia tries to help the Yankees get to the postseason as they attempt to close out their home schedule by avoiding a four-game series sweep to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The Yankees (86-72) are atop the AL wild-card standings, and need one win from their final four games to clinch a postseason berth. Winning two would mean hosting Tuesday’s wild-card game.

New York, though, has dropped nine of 13 at home and failed to secure a playoff spot Wednesday, blowing a seventh-inning lead in a 9-5, 11-inning loss.

"We try to clinch (Thursday), I guess," said reliever Andrew Bailey, who took the loss after allowing three runs in the 11th.

The Yankees haven’t been swept at home by the Red Sox (78-80) since losing all three matchups from June 7-9, 2011.

Each of Sabathia’s last three starts against Boston have ended in New York victories while he’s gone 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18 innings.

The left-hander allowed one run and three hits while fanning eight in six innings and not figuring in the decision of a 2-1 win Aug. 6.

Sabathia (5-10, 4.82 ERA) wasn’t sharp Friday, giving up four runs and two homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox. He was 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his first three starts after returning from the disabled list due to inflammation in his right knee.

Alex Rodriguez’s solo homer Wednesday was his first in 14 games. He finished 2 for 4 after batting .147 with two RBIs during his home run drought.

He has a .344 average with nine RBIs in nine home matchups with Boston this year.

The Red Sox are spoiling more than the Yankees’ playoff hopes. They’ve been denying them the distinction of becoming the first AL team to reach 10,000 wins in the regular season.

"I don’t think we are necessarily trying to ruin hopes," center fielder Mookie Betts said. "I think we are just going out and playing the game, trying to win some games, and I just that’s kind of like a bonus."

Betts is 6 for 15 with three homers, three doubles and three RBIs in this series. He’s batting .348 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last 11 matchups.

Boston turns to Rich Hill (2-0, 1.17), who has struck out 10 in each of his three starts since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket. The left-hander appeared in 14 games as a reliever with the Yankees last year.

Hill was outstanding again Friday, tossing a two-hitter in a 7-0 win over Baltimore for his second career shutout – first since 2006 with the Chicago Cubs.

"As a reliever," Hill said when asked if any team showed interest in him after he was waived by Washington in June. "No team would take a chance as a starter without going to play independent baseball, re-proving (myself) again to be able to go out and start again."

Hill now faces his former team for the first time since being designated for assignment in August 2014.