That was on July 27, and at 49-51, Boston was a lost team. A day before the series started, there was a series of meetings between ownership, the players and coaching staff.
The Sox proceeded to win four in a row, including the next two from the Yanks, reeling off a stretch that felt like the start of a surge.
"They talked about that last time they were here, and they took two out of three," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Boston's current state. "We know how potent that team can be, and we need to win games."
The problem for the Red Sox is that they then lost four in a row. The Sox are 5-10 in August and 3-4 on their 10-game road trip. Boston beat the Orioles, 6-3, on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep in Baltimore.
The Yankees, in sharp contrast, have the best record in the American League at 70-48. Despite missing out on a four-game sweep of the Rangers with Thursday's 10-6 loss, New York has won seven of nine.
Derek Jeter has a 12-game hitting streak during which he's batting .375 (21-for-56) with one home run, seven RBIs and eight multihit games. Meanwhile, Boston's David Oritz, who's as close to a Jeter-esque figure as the Sox have, figures to be out of action until at least next week due to an injured right Achilles tendon. After staying off his feet for a few days, the slugger hopes to take batting practice before Friday's game.
"The thing is, every time I was doing some running, I was getting sore," Ortiz said on Wednesday. "That's not what we're looking for. We're looking to take a step forward instead of a step back. Now we're going through some things, and I'm starting to feel better."
Despite their 58-61 record, the Sox aren't talking about playing for next year. After seeing how drastically the landscape of the AL East changed last September -- at their expense -- the Red Sox know there is still time.
"What is important for Red Sox fans to know is that ownership, players and all staff -- especially [manager] Bobby Valentine -- are determined to turn around what has thus far been an unacceptable, failed season," Red Sox principal owner John Henry said in an e-mail to Red Sox beat reporters on Wednesday. "We are all on the same page in that regard and will not waver."
Red Sox: Morales strong of late
Friday starter Franklin Morales is back in the rotation and has a 2.94 ERA and 57 strikeouts in his last 15 outings, seven of which were starts. Over that stretch, opponents have a .179 average against him -- the lowest in the Majors by a pitcher with at least 50 innings.
Morales took the loss in his last start, a 5-2 Indians win on Saturday. The lefty gave up three runs on two hits, four walks and a hit batsman in 5 1/3 innings. He also struck out six.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is dealing with what Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called "a little leg situation" and started as the designated hitter on Thursday. He went 0-for-4 to end a 38-game hit streak against the Orioles.
Ellsbury, though, downplayed whatever leg issues might be bothering him.
"It's in good shape," said Ellsbury. "I've been playing the last couple of days and it's felt good."
Yankees: Hughes takes step back
On Friday, New York will start Phil Hughes, who found a rhythm in June, when he went 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA, and remained hot in July, going 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA. Hughes has slipped a bit recently, however. The right-hander has allowed 11 runs over 8 1/3 innings spanning his past two starts.
On Sunday in Toronto, Hughes took his 10th loss, allowing nine hits, including the 27th home run he's surrendered this season.
"It just comes down to a command thing, and I have to be better," Hughes said. "These last two starts have been bad, and I need to, hopefully, hit the reset button when we get back home and kind of clear my mind."
Ichiro Suzuki recorded his first three-hit game since joining the Yankees in a 10-6 loss to the Rangers on Thursday. Ichiro is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with six RBIs during his last eight games.
Robinson Cano drew an eighth-inning walk as a pinch-hitter on Thursday. The second baseman was out of the starting lineup for the second time in as many games because of a stiff neck, which Girardi thinks can be attributed to sleeping the wrong way.
"As the day went on, he had a ton of treatment and he just felt he could give us an at-bat, so I took advantage of it," Girardi said.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is riding an 11-game hit streak. He went 2-for-5 on Thursday with a double, two runs and an RBI. Pedroia is hitting .379 (22-for-58) in 15 games this month with 13 runs and five RBIs.
At 22 games over .500, the Yankees (70-48) are one game shy of their high-water mark for the season.