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Xander Bogaerts standing in the way of Aaron Judge's Triple Crown provides some stakes for Red Sox-Yankees series

BOSTON -- There's nothing better in baseball than a late-season series between the Red Sox and Yankees with everything on the line. Conversely ... there's not much worse than a late-season Sox-Yankees series that doesn't really matter at all.

Unfortunately for Boston, the latter is the case for the upcoming four-game set in the Bronx.

Of course, all the eyes in the baseball world will be on this series. At least, they will be every hour or so, for each one of Aaron Judge's plate appearances as he tries to set a new American League record for home runs in a single season. That aspect of the four-game set figures to be electric, as nobody in the AL has topped 60 homers in the past 60-plus season. Judge will tie Roger Maris with his next homer, and he'll have multiple weeks to set his own record after that.

While Judge swinging for the fences will get all of the attention, there is something to watch from a Red Sox perspective ... even if it's a bit of a consolation prize. 

Judge isn't just vying for the AL home run record; he's also in position to win the Triple Crown. Judge enters Thursday as the runaway leader in home runs (with 23 more than the next guy) and RBIs (a modest 13-RBI lead there), but he is the leader in batting average by only the slimmest of margins. The man who's allllmost tied with Judge in that category is none other than Xander Bogaerts.

Technically, both Judge and Bogaerts are hitting .317 on the year. Yet Judge has Bogaerts by almost five ten-thousandths of a point, with Judge at .31707 and Bogaerts at .31660.

It's a race that figures to remain neck-and-neck for the duration of the season. And it gives something to Red Sox fans who are hoping to see something -- anything -- to feel moderately good about during a weekend that will likely be all about celebrating Judge.

Not long ago, the idea of a modern hitter winning the Triple Crown was almost unfathomable, as Carl Yastrzemski's 1967 season held as the last Triple Crown for four and a half decades. But Miguel Cabrera busted that trend in 2012, when he led the AL with a .330 average to go with 44 home runs and 139 RBIs.

If Judge can win the Triple Crown while also hitting the most home runs in AL history, it will be quite a story, one that even Red Sox fans can appreciate. Still, not every Red Sox fan is eager to endure the pomp and circumstance surrounding Judge, and hoping for Bogaerts to have a red-hot weekend at the plate can at least provide a little something to keep their hearts engaged during what will be an otherwise painful series.

(The Red Sox technically do have an outside shot to win the season series against the Yankees, though that would require Boston to sweep this four-game set. That's possible ... but rather unlikely. Even then, winning the season series with the Yankees in a last-place season would be a bit of an empty achievement.)  

It's not much. But with the way this year has gone for the Red Sox, it's all they can offer.

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