As the race for the winner of the American League East continues, the New York Yankees enter a crucial series with their biggest rival.

There are 49 games left in the regular season for the New York Yankees, but this weekend series with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium has “must-win” all over it.

Boston will arrive in the Bronx undefeated in the month of August, 10-2 since July 25 and with a 4.5-game lead in the American League East, ready to put their lead to an unreachable figure.

As their rivals surge, the Bombers are experiencing the blues.

They are 22-30 since they were a season-high 15 games over .500 at the end of play on June 12 (38-23), when they led the Red Sox by four games in the East. They are 15-12 since the All-Star break but have seen their offense slump immensely over that same span.

Yankee hitters are slashing just .249/.315/.407 in the second half featuring the 10th-worst WAR in all of baseball. It’s making the revamped bullpen (thanks to Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson) and rotation (now with Sonny Gray in the mix) become a non-factor.

You can’t win games when Gray gets limited run support. In his first two starts as a Yankee, the righty has received one total run of support. You also can’t win games when the bullpen, which has posted the Majors’ best ERA since the All-Star break at 1.92, isn’t handed a lead. It’s simple math, really. 

The Bronx Bombers, who led the Major Leagues in runs scored with 358 on June 12, need to return to their old ways. That includes bombs from Aaron Judge. That includes a spark from Gary Sanchez. It needs to come this weekend or else.

If the Yankees are unable to fix their woes and end up losing 2-of-3 to the Red Sox this weekend, their hopes of winning the division in 2017 will take an enormous hit.

That will throw the Yankees out of first by five games in the loss column with 46 games remaining in the season. September 3 marks the final match-up between the two teams. If nothing is done by then, it will be time to scoreboard watch and maneuver the rotation for the AL Wild Card game.

General manager Brian Cashman didn’t go all-in on the 2017 New York Yankees on July 31 just for them to falter into a Wild Card spot. This weekend, the coffin will not be nailed shut with losses. But it will go a long way in deciphering who will be crowned AL East champions in October.