- Last Updated: 7:59 AM, July 6, 2012
- Posted: 3:17 AM, July 6, 2012
BOSTON — Nothing regarding the AL East will be decided in New England’s living room this weekend when the Yankees and Red Sox play four games in three days.
The Yankees can’t clinch and the Red Sox won’t be eliminated no matter what happens by late Sunday night at Fenway Park.
However, should either club sweep or win three of four, the dynamic within baseball’s toughest division will shift.
A Yankees’ sweep and the 7 1/2-game lead they bring into Fenway tonight will swell to 11 1/2 at the All-Star break. Not insurmountable for the Red Sox, but a deep ditch.
Lose four to the Red Sox, who were swept three straight by the A’s in Oakland this week, and the Yankees advantage would be shaved to 3 1/2 games. That would make for a nervous four days off.
The last time the Yankees saw the Red Sox — and they have only played twice this year — Bobby Valentine’s club was a mess.
A two-game Fenway sweep for the Yankees was highlighted by the Yankees turning a 9-0 deficit into a 15-9 victory on April 21 that dropped the Red Sox’s record to 4-10 and started voices calling for Valentine’s job.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Andrew Bailey didn’t play in that late-April series and remain out.
Yet, the Red Sox have a different look. Long-time Red Sox Kevin Youkilis was traded to the White Sox when Boston’s brass decided it was time for Will Middlebrooks to play third. He has missed the last three games with a tight left hamstring.
“Very weird,’’ Mark Teixeira said of not having to deal with Youkilis in the middle of the Red Sox’s order that has Adrian Gonzalez hitting .275 with 44 RBIs behind David Ortiz, the Red Sox lone All-Star. Ortiz is batting .302 with 22 homers and 55 RBIs. “That shows you anything can happen in baseball. Business is business.’’
Dustin Pedroia is battling a thumb injury suffered Tuesday and went for tests yesterday. Clay Buchholz (illness) is on the disabled list.
“I don’t care who is on the field, it’s the Red Sox and that’s all that matters,’’ Nick Swisher said. “The place will be packed and we will be ready.’’
What also matters is the energy generated from the seats. Tampa Bay is a legitimate AL East club despite a soft lineup. Baltimore didn’t fall out of the race in June as many expected. Yet, nothing stirs the blood more than Yankees-Red Sox for four games in Fenway. Even if the home team was just a half-game out of last place in the division.
“The bigger picture is what it means to the fans and to both cities,’’ Teixeira says. “That never goes away. We feel the energy and that’s why we enjoy [the games].’’
Starting tonight there will be ample opportunity for enjoyment since the Yankees and Red Sox have 16 games remaining with the last three ending the regular season at Yankee Stadium.
So what will the Yankees-Red Sox landscape look like when the All-Star break bell rings Sunday night?
Usually, you figure teams play four games — including two in one day — and split. Yet, the usual never seems to be in play when it’s Yankees-Red Sox on a summer weekend at Fenway.Follow @NYPostsports