Facing the Red Sox might not feel like the deep-rooted rivalry it once was for New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes Jr., but Boston manager Alex Cora doesn’t feel the same.

“We haven’t been good for like a year and a half but it hasn’t been a couple of years,” Cora told reporters in response to Cortes’ comments, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “I think we had a great season in ’21. We were two games away from making it to the World Series. Yeah, last year we finished last. This year, we’re last. I still enjoy the rivalry. I think it’s still fun.”

Cortes, who took a shot at Boston’s recent stretch and a record that has hovered around .500 for the majority of the season, referenced how New York has had just as big of rivalries with the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. The second-place Baltimore Orioles, third-place Yankees and fourth-place Blue Jays currently are separated by just three games.

Cora defended the Red Sox from Cortes’ remarks, touching on Boston’s recent postseason successes while referencing New York’s playoff shortcomings.

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“Obviously the last five or six years, when the games are louder and we get the spotlight — it was in ’18 and ’21 — we didn’t struggle there,” Cora said. “I know they’re good. And they’re really good at what they do. He’s (Cortes) been part of it the last two years, three years. And he’s been outstanding. But from our end, obviously, we want to be better on a consistent basis.

“Kind of like consistent as they are making it to the playoffs but I think obviously as far as the rivalry when it was loud and the spotlight was there, we did a pretty good job with them.”

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Boston currently is 14 games back of Tampa Bay entering its three-game series in New York, which is scheduled to begin Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. You can watch it on NESN after an hour of pregame.

Featured image via Frank Becerra Jr./ The Journal News via USA TODAY NETWORK Images