NEW YORK — For virtually every day in the last month Authentic Anthony Barr Jersey , either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees woke up in first place in the AL East standings.
Since the wild-card play-in game was added in 2012, the premium is placed on being a division winner and whichever team finishes second in the AL East appears likely to host the wild-card game.
Neither team is ready to focus on playoff scenarios, but the Red Sox and Yankees are anticipating a vibrant atmosphere Friday night for the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
“We know where we’re at,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They’re not getting away. We’re not getting away. It’s half the season. This is a three-game series. We go out there with the same mindset. Win the series.”
The season series is tied at three games apiece.
Boston took two of three April 10-12 when the Yankees began 9-9 and fell 7 1/2 games out. The Yankees took two of three a month later, missing the sweep when J.D. Martinez homered off Dellin Betances in the series finale.
Since the last meeting, the Red Sox (55-27) are 29-16 while the Yankees (52-26) are 26-15. The teams were tied atop the division following the last meeting and the margin has not been more than 2 1/2 games since the last series.
“They’re a great team,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve played some really competitive games with them already. If we’re going to win the division, that’s the team we’re going to have to beat out. They’re a really good opponent chasing after the same thing we’re after and we embrace the competition.”
The Red Sox enter the series on a four-game winning streak and with six wins in their last seven games, a stretch that has seen them get 52 runs while hitting .331 (83-for-251). They scored 22 runs and hit nine homers in a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.
Martinez was quiet in Thursday’s 4-2 win but leads the majors with 25 homers and is hitting .448 (13-for-29) in his last seven games.
Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered Thursday and both enjoyed improved results on the homestand. Devers was 8-for-22 while Bradley was 8-for-17.
“We’re playing well. We’re pitching well. We’re swinging the bats a lot better than 10 days ago,” Cora said “So as always, it should be fun. I’ve been saying it all along since last year: The stadium is alive. The (Yankees) fans are buying into the concept. They love that team.”
The Yankees are returning from a 2-4 road trip through Tampa Bay and Philadelphia. During the trip, the Yankees were blanked twice and scored 17 runs while batting .175 (40-for-229) and going 10-for-57 (.175) with runners in scoring position.
“We feel like we’ve got a really good team, they’ve got a really good team,” Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner said. “We’ve been right there with them, within a game or two Anthony Barr Jersey Big , it seems like all year and it will probably be like that for the next few months, too.”
The Yankees own the majors’ best home record at 29-11 and enter the series with 13 wins in their last 18 home games since the last meeting with the Red Sox.
One player who enjoyed a good trip was Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is hitting .306 this month and batted .417 (10-for-24) on the trip.
Stanton and the rest of the Yankees will contend with three left-handed starters as the Red Sox are slated to start Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale and David Price. The Yankees are 18-5 in games started by lefties and are hitting .262 off southpaw starters.
Rodriguez, who will start Friday, is 9-2 with a 3.86 ERA and is coming off a rare loss. He allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in four innings of Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Despite matching his second-shortest outing of the season, Rodriguez is 6-1 in his last seven starts.
Rodriguez is 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees. He started the last meeting on May 10 and held the Yankees to one hit and no runs in five innings while getting eight strikeouts in a 93-pitch outing.
The Yankees will counter with CC Sabathia, whose charitable foundation raised $1 million in a softball game Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia is seeking his 242nd career win, which would break a tie with Herb Pennock for 56th place on the all-time list. He also is making his 524th career start.
Sabathia is coming off two tough-luck losses to the Tampa Bay Rays. After allowing three runs on 10 hits in 7 2/3 innings June 17, Sabathia allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in last Friday’s 2-1 loss.
Sabathia was originally slated to start Wednesday but the Yankees opted to line him up for the Red Sox.
The left-hander is 17-13 with a 4.20 ERA in 40 career starts against Boston and 15-9 with a 4.27 ERA in 33 starts in the rivalry since becoming a Yankee in 2009. He opposed Rodriguez last month and allowed four runs on nine hits in four innings in a game the Red Sox won 5-4.
After this weekend’s series, the teams will next meet Aug 2-5 for a four-game set at Fenway Park.
Blake Bortles remembers the first time Jalen Ramsey got under his skin.
Bortles was trying to get through a two-minute drill during the 2016 season. It was a weekly walkthrough routine in which players were supposed to go half-speed while practicing plays. Normally, there’s no contact and every pass is complete.
At least that had been the case until Ramsey arrived.
Bortles threw several passes in Ramsey’s direction. The rookie intercepted or knocked down each one.
It happened week after week until Bortles finally stopped throwing Ramsey’s way.
”It was so annoying,” Bortles recalled Thursday.
It also set the tone for Ramsey’s career. The trash-talking cornerback has a flair for frustrating quarterbacks and receivers and the ability to essentially shut down one side of the field. After 33 games, Ramsey’s already considered among the best players in franchise history – a 23-year-old rising star who openly aspires to be as good as Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and often looks the part.
”The best I’ve ever seen in person,” Bortles said. ”He’s freakish.”
Ramsey is a major piece of Jacksonville’s defensive turnaround, and he’ll take center stage Sunday when the Jaguars (11-6) play in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs at Pittsburgh (13-3).
Ramsey will shadow Antonio Brown Authentic Marcus Mariota Jersey , widely considered the best receiver in the NFL.
All-Pro vs. All-Pro, undoubtedly the most intriguing matchup of the postseason game.
”It’s not many receivers I’m going to come in here in front of y’all and say they’re one of the best in the league,” Ramsey said. ”He is, though. That’s the truth about him.”
Brown caught 10 passes for 157 yards in the first meeting against Jacksonville, which won 30-9 in early October. Ben Roethlisberger targeted Brown a staggering 19 times, with three of those ending up as interceptions.
”He’s an elite player,” Ramsey said. ”Highly regarded by everybody, honestly, around the nation or maybe internationally. So, yeah, it’s going to be a challenge. We’re going to have to be on our Ps and Qs and try to execute the game plan as best we can.”
Jacksonville’s game plan has changed slightly since the first meeting.
Ramsey and fellow Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye played sides to start the season, covering whatever receiver lined up in front of them. But Ramsey has since started following the top wideout for every opponent all over the field, and he’s had rousing success against Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green Marcus Mariota Jersey Big , Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen and San Francisco’s Marquise Goodwin.
Ramsey angered Green so much with his constant verbal jabs that the mild-mannered receiver grabbed the cocky cornerback in a headlock and tossed him to the ground. Both players were ejected.
”He’ll get in a guy’s head now,” linebacker Telvin Smith said.
Added Bouye: ”Everything he’s accomplished, he’s worked for it. He’s capitalized. He’s learned from his mistakes and he keeps getting better week in and week out.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey has allowed 47 receptions for 586 yards and three touchdowns this season. He has five interceptions, including one to seal a 10-3 victory against Buffalo in a wild-card game.
It was about what the Jaguars have come to expect from the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft. He has a rare combination of size, speed, instincts, ball skills and body control. And he’s no longer a rookie.
”You see the maturity in the meetings and you see the maturity on the grass,” defensive coordinator Todd Wash said. ”We always knew he was a freak athlete and we always knew he could play. But that maturity level is getting better and better each day.”
His matchup against Brown will be his next – and maybe his best – challenge.
”It’s going to be an unbelievable thing,” Jaguars safety Barry Church said. ”I’m just glad I’m on the field for it. Those guys, they both like to talk a bit of trash and they’re going to be matched up with each other the whole game. It’s going to be a great one. We’ll see who gets the better of the two, but my money’s on Jalen.”