Yankees take playoff push to Boston

10:31 AM, Sep 13, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees need Hiroki Kuroda to be the pitcher he was in the first half if they have any intention on reaching the postseason.

The Japanese right-hander takes the ball on Friday trying to win his first game in six starts, as the Yankees play the first of three games with the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Kuroda was 11-7 with a 2.33 ERA after beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim back on Aug. 12. However, he lost to Boston his following start and is 0-3 in five starts since that last win and has pitched to a 6.52 ERA in that time.

Kuroda did not get a decision against the Red Sox on Sunday, as he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings in a 4-3 win. He's 3-4 lifetime versus Boston with a 3.74 ERA in 11 starts.

"At this stage of the season, fatigue really doesn't matter," Kuroda said. "You have to treat it as if this is going to be your last outing."

New York thought its playoff chances had gone by the wayside last weekend when it lost three of four to the Red Sox. The Yankees, though, rebounded to take three of four from the Baltimore Orioles and come into the weekend just a game back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the final wild card berth.

"We've been chasing for the whole year, basically," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's obviously become much more interesting the last three or four weeks as we've got guys back. It became a lot more interesting. You know, every day it has that feeling of a playoff game."

On Friday, though, they may have to get by without outfielder Brett Gardner, who left Thursday's 6-5 win over the O's and will get an MRI on his strained oblique.

"I've never had an oblique issue before," said Gardner. "The best thing to do is just wait until (Friday) and see what the MRI says. That'll paint a much clearer picture."

The Yankees find themselves in that position thanks in large part to the Red Sox, who took two of three from Tampa. Boston sits comfortably atop the American League East, 8 1/2 games up on the Rays.

"You try and win every series. That's the No. 1 goal, and we lost tonight but we took a good two out of three," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "So we'll go home against New York and worry about Game 1, and see what happens after that."

Hoping to move one step closer to a postseason spot on Friday, the Red Sox will hand the ball to righty John lackey, who is 9-12 with a 3.48 ERA. Lackey beat the Yankees on Saturday, despite allowing seven runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

He is 10-10 in 26 starts against the Yankees with a 4.81 ERA.

Boston is 10-6 against the Yankees this season.

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