Less than a month ago, the Boston Red Sox led the New York Yankees by 9 1/2 games in the American League East Division race.
The Red Sox no longer hold the lead in the division, and the Yankees can move past their rivals in the wild-card race Wednesday night when the teams play their final regular-season game of the season series at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are tied with Boston for the second wild-card spot and their 68-52 record matches the Oakland Athletics, whom they visit next week.
They lost 10 of their first 13 games in the season series and were 9 1/2 behind the Red Sox in the division on July 26, the day after blowing a four-run lead in Fenway.
New York is 17-5 since blowing that lead and is seeking its sixth straight victory overall, which would match a season best.
The Yankees caught the Red Sox when they recorded a 5-3 victory in the opener and a 2-0 victory in the nightcap of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader.
“It’s a team that has a lot of heart, playing with a lot of confidence,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the nightcap. “We got a long way to go. We got to continue putting the foot on the gas. The group is a confident group, and we know what we’re capable of.”
The Yankees won two more close games thanks to big hits from Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton, who combined for five RBIs Tuesday.
Voit hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the fifth inning of the opener and then homered in the second inning of the nightcap. Stanton hit a pinch-hit single in the fifth inning of the opener and homered in the fourth of the second game.
Those hits coupled with Jonathan Loaisiga escaping a bases-loaded jam to end the opener and Wandy Peralta doing the same in the fifth of the nightcap helped the Yankees improve to a major league-leading 45-23 in games decided by two runs or fewer. New York also is 18-4 in those games since the All-Star break.
The Red Sox entered their final series in New York by scoring 51 runs and winning four of their previous five games but on Tuesday they went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the doubleheader.
During the doubleheader, the middle-of-the-lineup hitters Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez went a combined 3-for-18.
“Things just aren’t going our way at the moment,” Devers said.
Tuesday’s outcome also dropped Boston to 8-14 since taking three of four from the Yankees at Fenway.
Andrew Heaney (7-8, 5.78 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA since being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels, makes his fourth start as a Yankee.
He last pitched in Thursday’s “Field of Dreams” game against the Chicago White Sox when he allowed seven runs in five innings of a no-decision.
Heaney is 2-1 with a 5.92 ERA in five career starts against Boston.
Nick Pivetta (9-5, 4.20) starts for Boston and seeks consecutive wins for the first time since going 6-0 in his first 10 starts of the season.
Pivetta is 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in three starts this month and last pitched on Friday when he allowed one run on three hits in six innings of an 8-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Pivetta is making his first career start against the Yankees. He allowed two runs in two innings as a reliever against them on Aug. 6, 2020 shortly before Boston acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies.
–Field Level Media