MLB: Yanks face off with Red Sox, team that put them in tailspin

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Three weeks ago, the New York Yankees rolled into Boston as the best team in baseball, cruised to an easy win and became the first club with 50 wins this year.

Since then, the Yankees have fallen into a deep slump and have lost their lead in the American League East. But they hope to return to their previous form when they host the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.

The Yankees were 50-22 and held a 3 1/2-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East after beating the Red Sox 8-1 in a June 14 contest highlighted by Alex Verdugo’s return to Boston.

New York was outscored 17-7 in the last two games of the series, and those contests started their current 4-13 slide.

Heading into 12 straight games against division opponents bridging the All-Star break, the Yankees are coming off getting swept at home by the Cincinnati Reds. The Yankees never led in the three-game series, dropping the finale 8-4 on Thursday.

New York finished with seven hits, three from Verdugo. Juan Soto hit a two-run homer, and Austin Wells and rookie Ben Rice hit solo homers.

“Just not really clicking the way we were to start the season, just not going our way,” Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said. “It’s baseball. It’s a long season. You’re going to have a tough spell here and there.”

The Red Sox were a .500 team following the opener of the last series against the Yankees but are 12-4 since.

Boston has scored 87 runs (5.4 per game) in that span. The Red Sox extended their winning streak to four games when Tyler O’Neill capped a three-hit showing by getting a clutch double in the 12th inning of a 6-5 win over the host Miami Marlins on Thursday.

“It was a grinder but a good one,” manager Alex Cora said after the Red Sox survived going 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position. “It’s not that we played sloppy; they just played hard, too. I’m just glad we ended up winning the game, and we have to be ready for (Friday).”

Rafael Devers drove in two runs without getting a hit and is batting .378 (14-for-37) over his past 10 games. He also has 19 of his 51 RBIs in the past 16 games and is one hit shy of 1,000 for his career.

Nestor Cortes (4-7, 3.51 ERA) will start the series opener for the Yankees. The left-hander is 4-3 with a 1.84 ERA in nine home starts this season, 0-4 with a 5.63 ERA in his nine road starts.

Cortes is coming off his second set of consecutive losses this season. He allowed three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings on Saturday in Toronto. He last pitched at home on June 23 against the Atlanta Braves, when he permitted three runs in seven innings.

Cortes has not faced the Red Sox this year. He is 2-0 with a 5.59 ERA in 10 career appearances (four starts) against them.

Tanner Houck (7-6, 2.67 ERA) will get the ball for Boston on Friday. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA in his past three outings after earning four consecutive wins. Houck was shelled for eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings during an 11-1 loss to the visiting San Diego Padres on Saturday.

Houck, who is set for his first outing against the Yankees this year, is 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 12 career appearances (seven starts) vs. New York.

–Field Level Media

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