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Somewhat less buzz for Yankees-Red Sox this time around

Carlos Beltran of the Yankees is congratulated by

Carlos Beltran of the Yankees is congratulated by teammate Mark Teixeira after scoring in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Fenway Park on April 24, 2014 in Boston. Credit: Getty Images / Jared Wickerham

It was unusual, to say the least.

Before and after Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays, the media asked a cross-section of Yankees players about a variety of topics.

One of them, however, was not the fourth-place Red Sox, who start a three-game series against the third-place Yankees Friday night at the Stadium.

In years past, a last day of media access to players before a Red Sox series meant a slew of "rivalry" questions, an event so predictable that veterans such as Derek Jeter would see a pack of reporters approaching, smile and say something along the lines of "let me guess, Red Sox?"

On Wednesday night, however, in the nearly 10 minutes Jeter spoke with the media before the game, the sole focus was his 40th birthday. He celebrated that Thursday, an off day for the Yankees.

But Joe Girardi said he still expects some extra electricity at the Stadium with the Yankees' chief rival in town, regardless of the standings and the less-than-marquee pitching matchup in the opener, Boston righthander Brandon Workman vs. Yankees lefthander Vidal Nuño.

Workman will make his first career start. Nuño will make his 16th -- and maybe the final one for a while if things don't go well.

"I think there'll be a pretty good buzz," said Girardi, whose team beat the Red Sox in five of seven matchups in April. "[It's] unusual only playing them a few times to this point. We haven't seen them in a while. I always think there's a buzz when they come in."

Girardi noted that as other division teams have gotten better, Yankees-Red Sox games have become less than the be-all and end-all they used to represent. Not with the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees bunched atop the AL East. The Yankees just finished a stretch of nine straight against those teams, going 5-4.

The Blue Jays (45-36) -- who beat the White Sox, 7-0, Thursday night -- are two games ahead of the Orioles (41-36) and three ahead of the Yankees (40-37).

"With the parity in the division, [whenever] two teams are playing in our division, it takes on huge importance, where maybe it wasn't always that way," Girardi said.

The defending champion Red Sox (36-43), who are eight games behind Toronto, got out of the gate slowly and have never gotten on a significant roll. They "improved" to 2-5 on their 10-game trip with Wednesday night's 5-4 victory at Seattle.

"They've had their struggles just like us," Girardi said. "They've had good streaks and bad streaks. You never understand completely why it happens [as a manager]. They've lost some tough games just like we have, but we know they're still extremely dangerous."

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