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July 19, 2013

Sox begin key AL East stretch tonight vs. Yanks

BOSTON (AP) — Already with the most wins in the American League, the Boston Red Sox will get a big boost to start the second half of the season.

“The most important thing for us is that we get off the road, we get back into this ballpark and feed off the energy of the people here in Fenway,” manager John Farrell said yesterday as his first-place team went through an optional workout before a weekend series against the New York Yankees.

“We’re looking forward to the start of this homestand.”

The Red Sox, an American League-best 58-39 at the break (after winning just 69 games last season), play 13 of their next 16 games at home, where they are 31-16 this season.

The three games against the Yankees are followed by four with Tampa Bay. A three-game stop in Baltimore precedes three-game home series with Seattle and Arizona.

Boston has been in first place since May 27, but losses at Oakland in the last two games of a 5-5 West Coast trip knocked the lead down to 2½ games (from a season-high 5½ games on July 5).

Now the Yankees, making their first 2013 visit, come in six games out and in fourth place, while still looking for answers to their lack of offensive punch.

“It’s going to be exciting,” first baseman Mike Napoli said of the first home series with the Yankees. “I haven’t experienced that yet. I’m pretty sure the atmosphere is going to be (great). I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure tomorrow is going to be as fun day.”

Left-hander Felix Doubront faces Andy Pettitte today. The Red Sox are 4-2 against the Yankees so far this season. John Lackey and Jon Lester will also start for the Red Sox, while the Yankees counter with Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia.

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