Yankees open crucial homestand vs. Red Sox (Jun 06, 2017)

BY AP • June 5, 2017

NEW YORK -- Nearly nine months ago, Mark Teixeira hit a game-ending grand slam for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox were still able to celebrate winning the American League East Division.

There won't be any champagne celebrations this time around, just the satisfaction of one team taking a series from its longtime rival.

After experiencing mixed results over the weekend, the Yankees and Red Sox get together for a three-game series starting Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Some things are different about the teams since the last meeting in New York on Sept. 29. Teixeira and Boston slugger David Ortiz are retired while rookies Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi are playing key roles for the two best teams in the division.

New York split a four-game series in Toronto over the weekend and it was 3-4 on its road trip. Since winning six straight from May 2-8, the Yankees are 11-13 in their last 24 games and hold a two-game lead on the Red Sox.

"It will be exciting," New York left fielder Brett Gardner said. "It's something that us as players we get excited for but the fans probably enjoy it more than we do. Whether we're at Yankee Stadium or we're up at Fenway, it's always a great atmosphere.

"I'm sure, now that June's here and the summer months, I'm sure the stadium will be packed. It'll be a lot of fun. It'll be a good challenge. We're looking forward to it."

Boston also split a four-game series in Baltimore. It is 10-4 in its last 14 games since it was 21-21 following an 8-3 loss at Oakland on May 20.

New York returns home after a 3-2 loss in Toronto on Sunday. Matt Holliday drove in both runs but the Yankees fell to 2-11 when not hitting a home run.

"I think it's big. I think it's a big homestand," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're playing Boston and Baltimore. You don't want to get ahead too far but these are really important games. We're in a stretch of 13 in our division in a row. We get to go home now. We've got to play better."

Judge extended his hitting streak to eight games and is hitting .324 with 18 home runs and 41 RBIs to go along with a .433 on-base percentage. During the two-game series in Boston in April, he homered off Rick Porcello.

"They're playing well," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It's a good team. They've got a very good blend of young players and veteran guys. What Aaron Judge is doing is impressive to say the least, both defensively and offensively."

Boston heads to New York after winning the last two games in Baltimore. Benintendi homered twice in Sunday's 7-3 win but, unlike Judge, he is slumping with a .158 (12-for-76) average in his last 22 games.

The Red Sox will be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia (wrist), who is on the 10-day disabled list. He took ground balls on the field and swung in the cage and hopes to take batting practice Tuesday.

The Yankees will be without Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion). Ellsbury has been on the disabled list since crashing into the center field wall in the first inning on May 24 against Kansas City and was examined by a neurologist Monday.

Masahiro Tanaka (5-5, 6.34 ERA) pitched a three-hitter against the Red Sox on April 27 in Boston but starts like those have been rare for him heading into Tuesday.

Tanaka followed up his 13-strikeout showing against the Oakland Athletics on May 26 by allowing seven earned runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings Wednesday at Baltimore. It was the fifth time Tanaka failed to complete six innings and the fourth time he allowed at least five runs.

It also prompted another round of questions about Tanaka's health, but the Yankees continue to say his struggles are not physical. Tanaka has an 8.42 ERA in his last six starts since the complete game in Boston and the attempts to find out the cause of the struggles has prompted general manager Brian Cashman to label it as "CSI: The Bronx."

"I know we've talked about that a lot, but how do you explain the shutout in Boston? How do you explain his last game?" Girardi said. "If a guy is injured, he's injured and there's not going to be good starts. To me, it's just the inconsistency. He hasn't been consistent this year."

Tanaka is 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 11 career starts against the Red Sox. He is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA in five home starts against Boston.

Drew Pomeranz starts for the Red Sox and looks to win his third straight start. In wins over the Texas Rangers on May 25 and Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, he allowed three runs and 11 hits while getting 17 strikeouts in 13 innings.

Pomeranz is 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA in five appearances (four starts) against the Yankees. Tuesday will be his third start against New York since the Red Sox acquired him from the San Diego Padres last July.

In two no-decisions against the Yankees at Fenway Park last season, Pomeranz allowed five runs and 13 hits in nine innings. In his penultimate start with the Padres, Pomeranz allowed one run and five hits in seven innings on July 2.

The Yankees won six of nine home meetings last season.



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