NEW YORK — It remains to be seen if the Red Sox will still be alive in the American League East when they return to New York near the end of September. Much of that will depend upon the outcome of Monday’s meeting with the Yankees.
The Sox will try to gain a split of the four-game series in The Bronx when they hook up with the Yankees in a Monday matinee.
New York has taken the last two contests behind a pair of strong pitching performances and with the help of some sloppy play by Boston, which committed four errors in the two losses.
Of course, the Red Sox are very much alive in their pursuit of the wild card. Despite the consecutive setbacks, the deficit in that race remains 4 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay.
WHEN AND WHERE
Red Sox (63-49) at Yankees (69-41) Monday, Aug. 9, 2:05 p.m. Yankee Stadium, New York
LHP Jon Lester (11-7, 3.07 ERA) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (13-4, 3.96 ERA)
Following a prolonged stretch of dominance, Lester has dropped four straight decisions, many coming in awkward fashion.
There was the flirtation with a perfect game in Seattle, a couple of games in which his defense hurt him and then leg cramps which got to him in his previous start in Fenway Park.
Still, Lester remains among the league leaders in most relevant pitching categories and he has pitched well in the rivalry. The lefty is 4-1 all-time against the Yankees and owns a 2.81 ERA in five starts in New York.
Hughes was originally scheduled to pitch Tuesday in Texas but was bumped when A.J. Burnett was scratched prior to Sunday’s game.
The 24-year-old allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings to defeat Toronto five days ago. He is 1-2 with a 6.48 ERA in his career against the Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Marco Scutaro, SS David Ortiz, DH Victor Martinez, C Adrian Beltre, 3B J.D. Drew, RF Ryan Kalish, LF Bill Hall, 2B Kevin Cash, C
Derek Jeter, SS Nick Swisher, RF Mark Teixeira, 1B Alex Rodriguez, 3B Robinson Cano, 2BF Jorge Posada, C Lance Berkman, DH Curtis Granderson, CF Brett Gardner, LF
Third baseman Adrian Beltre is batting .351 (20-for-57) during a 14-game hitting streak.
Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is 0-for-16 since coming off the DL.
Boston’s bullpen has thrown seven scoreless innings in the series.
Shortstop Derek Jeter moved past Babe Ruth and into 39th place on baseball’s all-time hits list with a single in his second at bat Sunday night.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez is one of 10 players in baseball history with at least 200 home runs, 2,500 hits, 1,500 runs and 300 steals.
Closer Mariano Rivera is one save shy of 550.
BLACK AND BLUE
First baseman Kevin Youkilis has successful surgery Friday to repair the torn right adductor muscle on his right hand. He will miss the remainder of the season.
Center fielder Mike Cameron is on the DL with a lower abdominal strain. He’s taking precaution with his return and is trying to rest as much as possible. Cameron was preparing to hit off a tee Sunday.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (broken left foot) ran the bases in addition to fielding and hitting Sunday. He hopes to return next week.
Catcher Jason Varitek (broken right foot) hit on the field for the first time Sunday. He remains weeks behind Pedroia.
Left-hander Hideki Okajima was placed on the DL on Friday with a right hamstring strain.
Righty Junichi Tazawa underwent Tommy John surgery in March. He is out for the year.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte threw a bullpen session Friday. The 38-year-old lefty hasn’t pitched since July 18 due to a groin injury.
Right-handed reliever Alfredo Aceves has been on the DL since May 12 with a lower back strain.
Left-handed reliever Damaso Marte has been on the DL since July 17 with shoulder inflammation.
Designated hitter Nick Johnson has been on the DL since early May with a sprained wrist. He’s likely to miss the remainder of the season.
A loss in this one and you can just about kiss the AL East goodbye.