BOSTON (CBS) — Chances are the Boston Red Sox will not catch the New York Yankees in the AL East. But their 11-game deficit in the division should not be on their minds when they welcome their rivals to Fenway Park for a four-game set this weekend.

If the Red Sox want any shot at rising to one of the American League’s wild card spots, they need to simply focus on playing good baseball. Taking three of four against the Yankees would be a great start.

Boston is just 1-6 against their division foe this season. New York has outscored Boston 56-36 in those games, with 29 of those runs coming in an embarrassing two-game sweep in London.

The Red Sox are hoping that some home cooking will turn the season series around. Their only “home games” against the Yankees this season were across the pond, so this four-game set will be the first time the Sox and Yanks battle in Boston.

Winning this series won’t propel Boston into the AL East race, but it could greatly help their chances in the wild card. Losing this series won’t end their playoff hopes, but it would continue the path the Red Sox have followed all season: Take a step forward, only to stumble four steps back. That is not a road map to success.

Here’s who the two teams will be sending to the mound in this important four-game set at Fenway Park.

Thursday, 7:10 p.m.: Masahiro Tanaka (7-5, 4.00 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (8-7, 5.61 ERA)

Tanaka has made one start against the Red Sox this season, and it did not go very well. The Yankees spotted him a six-run lead in the top of the first, but he didn’t make it out of the bottom of the inning. He lasted just two-thirds of a frame in London, getting crushed for six runs off four hits and two walks. The Yankees still won the game, 17-13.

Overall for his career, Tanaka is 8-4 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.209 WHIP in 19 starts against Boston. He is 4-2 with a 3.90 ERA and a complete game shutout at Fenway Park.

Notable vs. Tanaka

– J.D. Martinez has absolutely mashed against Tanaka, with three of his eight hits (in just 18 at-bats) leaving the ballpark. He’s hitting .444 and is slugging 1.056 against the right-hander in his career.

– Andrew Benintendi (8-for-25) and Mookie Betts (14-for-43) both have hit two homers off Tanaka.

– Michael Chavis is batting 1.000 against Tanaka. Granted, he’s only 1-for-1, but that one was a three-run homer.

Porcello was also part of that 17-13 game in London, also allowing six runs in the first inning. He got just one out in that game. In his only other start against the Yankees this season, Porcello was tagged for five runs off nine hits over 4.2 innings in a 5-3 loss at Yankee Stadium.

Notable vs. Porcello

– Edwin Encarnacion has hit Porcello hard, going 14-for-47 with six doubles and three homers, driving in 11 runs against the Boston righty.

– Didi Gregorious is on fire as of late, hitting .444 over the last week. But he has struggled in his career against Porcello, batting just .188 (6-for-32) with six strikeouts.

Friday, 7:10 p.m.: James Paxton (5-5, 4.20 ERA) vs. Andrew Cashner (9-5, 4.19 ERA)

Paxton’s best start in a Yankees uniform came against the Red Sox, when he shut them down for eight innings back on April 16 in New York. Boston got just two hits off the lefty that night, with Paxton striking out a season-high 12 batters in an 8-0 victory. He is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox.

But he is winless in his last five starts, with opponents hitting .333 and taking Paxton deep seven times during that stretch.

Notable vs. Paxton

– Mookie Betts is just 3-for-15 with one extra-base hit against Paxton.

– Xander Bogaerts is the only Red Sox hitter to take Paxton out of the park, going 3-for-11 with against the lefty.

– Mitch Moreland has nine career at-bats against Paxton, and has struck out in seven of them. His other two at-bats ended with singles off Paxton.

Cashner spoke about how much he wanted to be part of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry when Boston acquired him, and now would be a great time for him to pick up his first win in a Red Sox uniform. But the Yankees have hit Cashner hard in three starts this season, tagging him for six runs over four innings in his first start of the year. He allowed two runs over six innings and three runs over six innings in his other two starts against New York, bringing his season totals to 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA against them this season. Overall, Cashner owns a 2-5 record and 3.96 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees.

Notable vs. Cashner

– Gleyber Torres has hit .462 (6-for-13) with a double and two homers in his career against Cashner.

– Gregorius is 7-for-22 with three doubles and a homer against Cashner.

Saturday, 4:05 p.m.: CC Sabathia (5-5, 4.50 ERA) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (12-4, 4.10 ERA)

Boston’s only win against the Yankees this season came with Sabathia on the mound. The hefty lefty allowed only allowed three runs over six innings, including solo homers to Martinez and Bogaerts. Sabathia has struggled as of late, sporting a 6.35 ERA in his three starts in July.

Notable vs. Sabathia

– Betts is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with three doubles and three RBIs against Sabathia, but has never taken him yard. On the flip side, Bogaerts is hitting just .167 with 10 strikeouts in his career against Sabathia, but has a pair of homers.

– Martinez is just 4-for-17 against Sabathia.

E-Rod allowed just two runs over 5.1 innings in his only start against the Yankees this season, and was in line for a win when he left the game. But the Boston bullpen imploded and gave up 10 runs after he departed, and the Yankees went on to win 12-8. Rodriguez is 5-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 outings (13 starts) against New York for his career.

Notable vs. Rodriguez

– Aaron Judge is just 1-for-12 against Rodriguez with five strikeouts. He has drawn three walks against Rodriguez.

– Torres is 3-for-8 with a triple and homer against E-Rod.

Sunday, 7:05 p.m.: Domingo German (12-2, 4.03 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (5-9, 4.00 ERA)

German made one of his two career starts against Boston this season, going just 3.2 innings back on June 2. Sandy Leon drove in a pair of runs and Bogaerts hit a solo homer off German, who left with the game tied 3-3. New York won 5-3, with Porcello taking the loss.

Notable vs. German

– Bogaerts is a perfect 2-for-2 with the aforementioned homer against German.

– Martinez, Betts and Rafael Devers are all hitless (0-for-4) in their careers against German.

Chris Sale is starting to look more and more like Chris Sale, but he needs to beat the Yankees to convince everyone that he’s truly back. The lefty is 0-2 against New York this season, allowing eight runs over 11 innings in his two starts.

– Judge is 4-for-20 against Sale with 13 strikeouts. Torres is 0-for-9 with seven punchouts.

– D.J. LeMahieu has three hits in six career at-bats against Sale, with a double and a homer.


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