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Yankees vs. Red Sox series preview

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry returns to the Bronx as the Yankees continue their last homestand of the season on Tuesday.

The Yankees have lost four of their last six, taking consecutive series losses to the Twins and Blue Jays. Even worse, the Red Sox could clinch the division as early as Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Something needs to spark for the Yankees. After a pure blowout of the Blue Jays in game one of last weekend’s series, it seemed like that was it, but the Yankees could not get it done the next two games and are back to square one. Maybe Boston splashing champagne all over the locker room sometime this week will ignite a fire into the team.

The lead for the top Wild Card spot remains unchanged at 1.5 games. After being swept by Boston in their last meeting, a series win in this series is crucial to at least gain some confidence for a potential American League Division Series opponent.

Game 1: J.A. Happ vs. Nathan Eovaldi

This matchup was supposed to happen in the last series at Fenway, but Happ (16-6, 3.75 ERA) suffered from hand, foot and mouth disease and was scratched from the start. Nonetheless, this will be the true pitching duel of the trade deadline acquisitions. For now, Happ has been the obvious better pitcher between the two. He is 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA ever since coming to the Yanks, whereas Eovaldi (5-7, 4.22 ERA overall) is 2-3 with a 4.17 ERA with the Red Sox.

The last time Eovaldi went over 5.1 innings in a start was when he shut out the Yankees for eight innings in Boston when the Red Sox initially acquired him. Since then, he has not made a start since Sept. 3 and has a 6.92 ERA in his past four outings.

Happ, on the other hand, has allowed one run in his last two starts and has really only had one bad start for the Yankees up to this point. He is a candidate to start the Wild Card game but given his track record against the Red Sox (2.98 career ERA), Aaron Boone may save him for a potential ALDS matchup.

Game 2: Luis Severino vs. David Price

Severino (17-8, 3.46 ERA) bounced back well from getting thrashed by the Athletics and pitched 5.2 quality innings against the Twins. He allowed one run on four hits, and was reluctant to leave the game when Boone pulled the plug. He still hasn’t returned to his dominant form, but any progress in the right direction is good news at this point.

In the span of two months, Price (15-6, 3.42 ERA) has shaven his ERA a full run from 4.42 to 3.42. In that stretch, he’s posted a ridiculous 1.82 ERA in 10 starts, allowing just 13 earned runs and striking out 68 batters over 64.1 innings pitched. It’s been a monumental run for a pitcher that came into this season with a ton of question marks.

Despite his atrocious track record against the Yankees, Price pitched well last time he faced them (6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER).

Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Eduardo Rodriguez

It is crazy to think that Tanaka (12-5, 3.47 ERA) is now practically matching Severino’s ERA given the starts these two pitchers had to their seasons. Tanaka has been the undisputed ace of the second half, and there it is believed that he is a strong candidate to start the Wild Card game.

He has delivered six or more innings in each of his last six starts, while posting a 1.80 ERA in that span. Tanaka has also allowed just one home run in the last month and has accumulated 41 strikeouts in his last 41 innings pitched.

Rodriguez (12-4, 3.54 ERA) spent some time on the disabled list with an ankle injury and just recently returned at the start of the month. He has made three mediocre starts, pitching to a 4.20 ERA in the month of September so far. He threw twice against the Yankees this season.

On May 10, he allowed one hit in five shutout innings. On June 29 at the Stadium, he allowed five runs in six innings, including a pair of home runs.