The New York Yankees currently sit atop the league at 50-24, but that'll change quickly if they play like they did in their last two games. The upstart Baltimore Orioles come to the Bronx, sitting just a game and a half out of first place in the AL East.

Meanwhile, New York will be without its manager, via Jomboy Media.

“Brad Ausmus will manage tonight's Yankees game, per @JimBowdenGM,” they tweeted via their Talkin' Yanks account. “Aaron Boone told us yesterday that he'd be missing tonight's game to attend his son's graduation.”

Ausmus, the Yankees' bench coach, was drafted by the team in 1987 as a catcher. After working his way up the minor league system, he enjoyed an 18-year MLB career with the San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers. The three-time Gold Glove winner managed the Tigers from 2014-17, and the Dodgers in 2019. After bench coaching the Oakland Athletics in 2022, he landed back in New York this season, where it all started.

Ausmus will be tasked with navigating a questionable first base situation after Anthony Rizzo's injury. Minor league prospect Ben Rice was called up in his place and will get a chance to prove himself in the big leagues. The 25-year-old is slashing .275/.393/.532 with 15 homer across AA and AAA this year.

D.J. LeMahieu is a veteran option, but he is no longer reliable. The 35-year-old is hitting just .188, with no homers and four RBI.

Will the Yankees rebound after two straight losses in Boston?

This will be one of the Yankees' most important series of the season

New York Yankees bench coach Brad Ausmus against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There aren't too many legitimate championship contenders across the league this year. The Yankees, Dodgers, Orioles, and Philadelphia Phillies all have the talent to get it done, but the list is short after that. There are only eight other teams above .500, with the Cleveland Guardians, Seattle Mariners, and Milwaukee Brewers at the top of that group. However, those squads don't have the same level of depth as the top four.

With Baltimore being one of New York's only true challengers this season, it'll be paramount for the club to win the home series and maintain its slim division lead. The Orioles beat the Yankees 3-1 in their four-game series at Camden Yards earlier this year.

Boone sounded off on the significance of the series, via the Associated Press's Noah Trister.

“I think both teams have clearly established themselves as really formidable, but at the same time, it is a marathon. We’ve got a long way to go,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “I think right now all I can say is both teams are really good, really dangerous and have a lot of potential.”

Baltimore has the league's third-best record, at 47-24. This battle of heavyweights will also see the return of reigning Cy Young Award-winner Gerrit Cole, who's slated to start Wednesday for the Yankees.

While there's plenty of season left, whoever wins this three-game tilt will have the inside track on the AL East crown.