The Yankees are seven games back in the AL East, and facing the division-leading Red Sox in Boston might not be the best place to gain ground in the pennant race.
After Friday's 4-2 victory, the Red Sox have won nine of their last 10 and 13 of their last 16 games at Fenway Park, and they've won their past eight home series.
That doesn't mean they're taking the Yankees lightly this weekend, though.
"We know they're going to be competitive and field a good team," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "It's not going to be your normal games, but we still got to take it as if it was."
The reason Saltalamacchia says the games aren't normal is that the Yankees are still missing some of their biggest pieces. Shortstop Derek Jeter was placed back on the disabled list on Friday, third baseman Alex Rodriguez is still on a rehab assignment in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and outfielder Curtis Granderson won't be able to begin playing games again until later this month.
"We know we're in fourth place, and we want to get back the pieces that we're missing in the lineup. We want to get our guys back," second baseman Robinson Cano said. "It's going to make a big difference. We know those guys have been here a long time."
The Yankees won't have any of those guys in Boston this weekend, and now they won't have Zoilo Almonte, either. The rookie outfielder suffered a sprained left ankle during Friday's game and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Outfielder Thomas Neal is the most likely candidate to replace him on the roster, but no official announcement has been made yet.
Boston pitchers have taken advantage of the Yankees' bruised and battered lineup. Starter Felix Doubront and three relievers combined to allow just five hits and two runs on Friday night.
On Saturday, the Red Sox will start John Lackey, who ranks second in the team's rotation with a 2.78 ERA.
"I think we've been tested. We've been tested and we have to pass the test," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "We need to do our job and you have to take the best for everybody. We have to do that."
Yankees: Kuroda on a roll
The Yankees will counter Lackey with starter Hiroki Kuroda on Saturday. The right-hander has been a constant for New York this season, and he ranks second among American League starters with a 2.65 ERA.
Kuroda has thrown 12 scoreless innings over his last two starts, allowing just nine hits while striking out nine batters during that span. He's struggled against the Red Sox this season, though, allowing five combined runs over 6 2/3 innings in two losses to them.
Red Sox: Lackey struggles against Yankees
Lackey has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox this season. He's posted a 7-6 record and a stellar sub-3.00 ERA after missing all of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The right-hander has never finished a season with an ERA below 3.01, and his 2.78 mark this year is more than a full run below his career 4.03 ERA. He's allowed two runs or less in each of his past five starts, and he's lasted at least seven innings in each of his last six starts.
New York has not been kind to him in his career, though. Lackey hasn't faced them yet this season, but his 4.68 ERA against them is the third-highest mark he has against any team he's faced more than three times.
• Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino left Friday's during the fourth inning after aggravating a nagging left hamstring injury.
• The Red Sox announced Friday that reliever Andrew Bailey could miss the season with damage to his right shoulder labrum, which could require surgery.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.