Clear the decks for another collision in the volatile American League East.
The Yankees have some momentum following a 5-2 homestand that included a four-game winning streak, but they'll face a formidable obstacle this weekend against the first-place Red Sox.
Andy Pettitte will be matched against Felix Doubront in Friday's opener at Fenway Park, and Boston will go into the weekend with a 6-3 edge over New York in the season series. The Red Sox are coming off a tough road trip, but they've managed the AL's best record at home (39-21) this season.
Pettitte, 41, will make his 42nd career appearance against Boston in the opener.
The left-hander has a stellar career record against the Red Sox (19-11 with a 3.87 ERA), but he's coming off two straight outings in which he wasn't able to complete five innings. Pettitte threw 101 pitches and only allowed one run against Detroit on Sunday, but he came out in the fifth inning.
Doubront also got knocked out early in his last start, but he's pitched six innings in six of his last eight outings. Doubront has been exceptional since the start of June, posting a 5-3 record and a 2.63 ERA in his last 13 starts, and he's allowed just three home runs in his last 78 2/3 innings.
Boston has the league's second-best batting average (.273) and the third-highest slugging percentage (.436). The Yankees, meanwhile, have the second-lowest average (.243) in the league, and they also have hit the second-fewest home runs (106) of any AL lineup.
Alex Rodriguez is batting .278 with one homer and four RBIs in his first nine games of the season. Friday will mark the first time he's faced the Red Sox since appealing the 211-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball and returning to New York's lineup.
"He has every right to appeal it, which he is. We know he's going to be in the lineup, and we'll prepare accordingly," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "The process he's going through is well within his rights. They're in place for a reason, and you can't argue it. "
The Yankees have also gotten a jolt from Alfonso Soriano. Soriano has batted .296 with seven home runs in 18 games since being acquired from the Cubs, and he went 4-for-5 in Thursday's 8-4 loss.
Yankees: Big numbers in reach for Cano
Robinson Cano finds himself on the verge of some milestones. The All-Star's next home run will be No. 200 for his career, and he'll become just the 16th Yankee to manage that feat. Cano is also close to passing Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey, who hit 202 career homers.
Cano went 3-for-5 with a double Thursday, one day after a 4-for-4 performance. The second baseman has reached base safely in 13 of his last 16 plate appearances heading into Boston.
Red Sox: Napoli sits in finale
Mike Napoli was on the bench for Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays and left-hander Mark Buehrle.
Farrell said he planned for Napoli to have the night off, even before Napoli belted a game-tying homer with two outs in Wednesday's game.
"The decision was made for this to be a down day for him," Farrell said Thursday. "We're going to get in at 3 in the morning. We've got another left-hander in Pettitte on the mound against us tomorrow night. And we're just trying to balance the schedule. We've got a challenging 10 days ahead of us, and just trying to keep everyone involved as best we can and find matchups where it might make the most sense."
• Ichiro Suzuki is six hits away from 4,000 combined between his tenure in Japan and the Major Leagues.
• The Yankees transferred David Phelps to the 60-day disabled list, which means he won't be able to return until September. Phelps is currently sidelined by a strained forearm.
• By belting his 23rd home run of the season on Wednesday, David Ortiz has now reached that total in all 11 seasons with Boston. That's the longest streak in franchise history, and Ortiz is the only Major Leaguer who's managed to have at least 23 home runs in every season between 2003 and 2013.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.