Twice, the New York Yankees faced one of the hard throwers from the Boston Red Sox bullpen and succeeded.
Then again, there is not much the Yankees are failing at in recent weeks.
After getting late hits in the first two games of the series, the Yankees go for the three-game sweep of the Red Sox on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York (26-10) has won 17 of its last 18 games after opening the series with a 3-2 victory Tuesday followed by a 9-6 victory Wednesday. It is the Yankees' best stretch since also going 17-1 from June 2-18, 1953.
On Tuesday, Aaron Judge delivered the big hit with a base hit off Joe Kelly in the seventh inning. One night later, slumping Brett Gardner capped a three-hit night with a two-run triple off Craig Kimbrel and Judge followed with a two-run homer.
"They're playing good baseball," Kimbrel said. "Seems like they're doing all the small things at the right time. They've gotten these first two. Hopefully, we can come back tomorrow and get us one."
Gardner's batting average rose from .198 to .214, and while some may have wanted a change at leadoff spot, it will not be occurring anytime soon.
"I feel like he's been a bit unlucky," New York manager Aaron Boone said. "Some of the things we're seeing suggest better days are ahead."
For the Yankees, it's difficult to imagine them playing any better.
Beside the 17-1 run, they are on their second eight-game winning streak of the season and their 11-game home winning streak is the longest since a 12-game run from April 25-June 1, 1985, in the early days of Billy Martin's fourth managerial tenure.
"That's just who those guys are," Boone said of the expectations for New York. "They expect to be really good. They expect to be a great team."
It's going so well for the Yankees that they are outscoring opponents 110-45 in the last 18 games, with 45 runs in the seventh inning or later. New York is averaging 6.1 runs in this stretch and has gone ahead in the last at-bat in five of its last eight games.
"To play high-energy baseball this time of year is something that really prepares you down the road," Yankees first baseman Neil Walker said. "Any chance that you have an opportunity to play a team like the Red Sox, high-caliber teams this time of the year, it doesn't matter. It's always fun."
The Red Sox dropped a game out of first place, and in the same time the Yankees have ripped off 17 wins in 18 games, they are 8-9 following a 17-2 start that put them 7 1/2 games in front of New York.
"They're playing good ball," Boston right fielder J.D. Martinez said. "Both of these games have come down to the wire. So just keep your head up, battle and come back tomorrow."
Martinez extended his hitting streak to 10 games in a contest in which the Red Sox wasted homers by Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez homered in the seventh off Chad Green to put Boston on top 6-5, and has 10 homers against New York pitching since the start of 2016 along with 25 RBIs.
CC Sabathia, who is 2-0 with a 0.39 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list, will be tasked with helping the Yankees go for the sweep and makes his second attempt at becoming the 58th pitcher to get 240 wins.
Sabathia missed a chance Friday when he pitched six scoreless innings and the Yankees blew a five-run lead before posting a 7-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians.
Sabathia is unbeaten in his last 14 regular-season starts since Aug. 19. During his second-longest unbeaten streak, he is 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA.
The left-hander is 17-13 with a 4.12 ERA in 39 career starts against the Red Sox and 15-9 with a 4.17 ERA in 32 starts against the Red Sox since becoming a Yankee in 2009.
Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez looks to remain unbeaten when he makes his seventh start of the season Thursday. Rodriguez was moved up a day Tuesday when the Red Sox scratched David Price.
On Wednesday, Price was diagnosed with a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. The extent of his absence will be determined Thursday afternoon following a bullpen session in New York.
"We need him," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. We need him here . We need him to compete. He's a big part of what we're trying to accomplish. We need him healthy."
Rodriguez is 3-0 with a 5.29 ERA as the Red Sox have scored at least six runs in five of his six starts.
The last instance was Saturday, when he allowed five runs and four hits in six innings in a 6-5 win at Texas. During his most recent outing, Rodriguez struck out 10 while throwing 107 pitches.
Rodriguez is 4-2 with a 2.96 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees, whom he last faced Aug. 31. In his last outing against New York, he allowed five runs and 10 hits in five innings of a 6-2 loss at Yankee Stadium.