Posted September 10, 2012 on AP on Fox
The New York Yankees likely expected a tight race in the AL East, but the Boston Red Sox are surprisingly not one of their challengers. The Yankees will try to maintain sole possession of first place during a three-game series with their sputtering archrivals beginning Tuesday night at Fenway Park. New York (79-61) moved one game ahead of Baltimore with a 13-3 rout at Camden Yards on Sunday, remaining two in front of Tampa Bay. The Yankees went 4-6 over a 10-game stretch against those teams but won three of the final five. "We've certainly got a hell of a competition going with both Baltimore and Tampa Bay, but I know we're up for that challenge and we're not afraid of it," general manager Brian Cashman told the team's official website. New York will face Tampa Bay again this weekend and will try to head into that series with some momentum by taking advantage of the Red Sox's woes. Boston (63-78) has dropped 11 of 12 and was swept at home by Toronto this past weekend. Those losses put the Red Sox in last place in the AL East, the first time they've been in the cellar this late in a season since 1997. "Obviously it's going to be a different feel than what people are used to around here. We'll play spoiler," outfielder Cody Ross told his team's official website. "That's all we can do now, is try to ruin people's seasons, because ours is pretty much (ruined)." The Red Sox have done little to spoil the Yankees' recent visits to Fenway. New York has prevailed in five of six matchups there this year, although it has split its last six meetings with Boston, all at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won't have slugger Mark Teixeira in the lineup for this series. The first baseman, who has four homers and a team-best 18 RBIs against Boston this season, aggravated a strained left calf Saturday and is expected to sit out 10-14 days. Teixeira had missed 10 straight games before hurting himself again on the final play of a 5-4 loss in Baltimore. "We missed him for 10 games. Now we're going to miss him for more," manager Joe Girardi said. "We need other guys to pick up the slack." The other Yankees will face Jon Lester (9-11, 4.99 ERA), one of the Red Sox's few consistent performers of late. Lester earned his fourth win in five starts last Tuesday in Seattle, Boston's only victory in its last 12 games. One of the left-hander's other recent outings was a 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 18 in which he allowed a Curtis Granderson homer and four other hits over seven innings. Lester was 0-2 with an 11.08 ERA over his previous three starts against New York, giving up five runs over 4 1-3 innings during a 7-3 home defeat July 8. Counterpart Hiroki Kuroda is seeking a career-high 14th win. Kuroda (13-10, 3.14) has allowed three runs over 16 innings in his last two starts against Boston, but he had a miserable performance in his most recent visit to Fenway. The right-hander matched career highs by allowing seven runs and 10 hits during New York's 10-8 win July 6. Kuroda has yielded 11 runs over his last three starts, but he got the win in a 6-4 victory Wednesday at Tampa Bay.

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