The New York Yankees are entering the final month of the season with three teams to pass in the AL wild-card race.
Their longest remaining homestand begins Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox, and the nine-game stretch could provide them with their best opportunity to make up ground.The Yankees (70-65) have won four straight and 15 of 23 at home. They've lost consecutive series after dropping the last two of a three-game set in Toronto over the weekend, failing to hold onto a three-run lead in Sunday's 4-3 loss.New York's deficit in the AL East is 8 1/2 games, which makes the second wild-card spot the more feasible task, though it has no games remaining with fellow contenders Detroit, Seattle and Cleveland."You know what's in front of you," shortstop Derek Jeter told MLB's official website. "We need to win games."Mark Teixeira went 0 for 4 on Sunday to extend his slump to 3 for 33 over the last nine games. Things haven't been much better at Yankee Stadium, where the first baseman is 6 for 47 in 13 games since the beginning of July.Manager Joe Girardi hopes to have center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury back to face his old team after being held out of the lineup the last two games because of a sore left ankle. A pinch-hit double Sunday extended his hitting streak to seven games, over which he's batting .542.The Red Sox (60-77), well removed from the playoff race, are entering their final series against Jeter at Yankee Stadium. They settled for a split in a four-game set in Tampa Bay after Monday's 4-3 loss in 10 innings.The Yankees have an 8-5 lead in the season series, something they'll look to improve on with Shane Greene (4-1, 3.09 ERA) on the mound.The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts. His latest win came after holding Detroit to two runs and five hits while striking out eight in seven innings of Wednesday's 8-4 victory.Against Boston, the rookie has a 5.40 ERA in a start and a relief outing. Mike Napoli homered Monday and also homered in his only at-bat against Greene on Aug. 2, but he's 3 for 32 over his last eight games.Greene will be opposed by Joe Kelly, who will be looking for his first Red Sox win in his first career game against New York. Kelly (0-1, 3.86) has struggled with his control in five starts with Boston, issuing 18 walks with two hit batters in 28 innings.The right-hander, however, limited opponents to two runs and four hits in 11 innings over his last two starts. Kelly allowed two runs and three hits in six innings while not receiving a decision in Wednesday's 5-2 loss in Toronto.Martin Prado, batting .367 over his last 15 games, is 2 for 4 with a home run off Kelly.Boston designated hitter David Ortiz was out of the lineup Monday after suffering a bruised right foot last week, but he's expected back for this series.Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is unlikely to return during the series after missing the last two games because of concussion-like symptoms."I feel normal but I've got to take all these tests and stuff, which is kind of tough," Pedroia said. "I haven't passed many tests in my schooling life."