The Yankees open a four-game series against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. It’s the last time the AL East rivals will face off during the regular season. The Red Sox lead the Yankees by 5 1/2 games after Boston’s 7-1 victory Wednesday night in Toronto.

“At this point in the season, you’re going to be able to say those are the most important games of the season because we don’t play each other (again) and where we are in the standings,” manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees were swept in a doubleheader by the Indians.

After the sweep, Girardi said: “I’m not going to downplay the magnitude of this series. I’m not going to. It’s a really important series for us.”

CC Sabathia will start the opener against lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez. The other matchups: Sonny Gray vs. Doug Fister on Friday; Masahiro Tanaka vs. Drew Pomeranz on Saturday; and Luis Severino vs. Chris Sale on Sunday night.

The Yankees are 12-17 against the current AL division leaders.

Green machine

Chad Green set a record in the first game when he faced eight batters and struck out seven. It’s the most strikeouts in a game by a pitcher when facing eight or fewer batters.

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“That’s pretty cool,” said Green, who has struck out 86 of 209 batters this season. “I didn’t know that when I was pitching, but I guess it’s pretty cool.”

MLB schedules Sanchez, Romine appeals for Friday

Major League Baseball has scheduled the appeal hearings of Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine for Friday, a source confirmed, so the Yankees may be dealing with suspensions to their two catchers during the Red Sox series in the Bronx. Sanchez received four games for fighting and Romine two for their involvement during last Thursday’s multiple bench-clearing brawls with the Tigers at Comerica Park. Suspensions are often reduced on appeal, so it would not be surprising to see each of the penalties cut in half.

With David Lennon