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New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox Preview: 8/30 - 9/1

CC CC Sabathia will be taking the mound on Tuesday night in Boston as the Yankees are set to face the Red Sox in a series that very well could begin to shape the final standings of the American League East. The Red Sox are currently in possession of first place over the Yankees by one and a half games. The Tampa Bay Rays could soon be out of focus as they are trailing by nine and September is nearing.

The pressure is on Sabathia to make a good start after a 0-4 record in his first four appearances against the Red Sox in 2011. He has been pitching well of late, but not at the level he was at before the All-Star break. In his last three starts, he has a 1-1 record and a 4.43 earned run average. His seasonal ERA is 2.99 and he's going to need to blank out the Red Sox to keep it under 3.00 and keep him in consideration for the American League Cy Young Award. 

There is more of a chance that the Yankees win with Sabathia on the mound then with the two pitchers that will follow him. Based on recent performances, Hughes (Wednesday) and Burnett (Thursday) are 3-2 with very high earned run averages. Hughes upset the Yankees in his last start against the Red Sox by only going 2 innings and allowing 6 runs. Then there's Burnett, who's rotation spot is all contingent on a superb September. 

The Yankees offense will have to be there in order to counter the Red Sox bats that could pound the starters on the mound. Derek Jeter will be more likely to play in the series than Alex Rodriguez, whose thumb is still sore. Girardi does not expect to play the third-baseman in Boston, but was still optimistic on playing him in September since tests were "good".

One New York slugger that could help fill Rodriguez's hole in the line-up seems to be Nick Swisher. He has hit six home-runs in his last seven games. That makes him only the third American League player to hit at least twenty home-runs in the last seven seasons. 

Note: Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano have suffered set-backs in their rehab assignments. There use to be a slim chance that they could have possibly returned to the Yankees in September, but any and all of those chances have vanished. Joe Girardi also fears that Feliciano's rotator cuff strain may not get better and cost him his career. 

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