Here we go.

The first week and a half of the baseball season has had the feeling of a tuneup act in Boston. The Red Sox got off to a great start, winning eight of their nine games and taking the early lead in the American League East.

They’ve won eight straight since losing on Opening Day at Tampa Bay, a run highlighted by Sunday’s improbable comeback against the Rays. The Sox scored six runs with two outs in the eighth to steal an 8-7 victory.

It was a thrilling win but also a win against one of the worst teams in baseball. The Rays have lost eight straight, six to the Red Sox. Boston’s other two wins were against the equally woeful Miami Marlins.

The Sox did what they needed to do. They beat inferior opponents. Now things get interesting – the New York Yankees come to town for a three-game series.

We’ve looked forward to this series since the Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton to an already formidable lineup. Two months later the Sox countered with slugger J.D. Martinez.

Martinez hit 45 homers last year but has just one in a Boston uniform (on Saturday) – and that includes 15 spring-training games.

Think that’s bad? Stanton was booed in the Yankee Stadium opener last week after striking out five times. He heard more boos Sunday when the Yankees lost in extra innings to Baltimore. Stanton went 3 for 28 during the homestand, striking out a stunning 16 times.

The Yankees arrive in Boston with a .500 record and are 31/2 games back of the Red Sox. Still, the early-season narrative will be set by what happens over the next three nights. Whoever wins this series will feel they are the team to beat in the AL East. Or at least their fans will.

Both teams already have been impacted by injuries. The Yankees lost pitcher CC Sabathia and third baseman Brandon Drury just last week, and have dealt with the loss of first baseman Greg Bird, and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier. Outfielder Aaron Hicks is eligible to come off the DL Tuesday.

The Red Sox started the season without three potential starting pitchers. Eduardo Rodriguez returned Sunday and turned in the first subpar outing by a Sox starter this season. Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright remain on the sideline.

Injuries are no excuse. These teams combined to spend more than $400 million to create the depth needed to overcome adversity. This year the Red Sox are spending even more than the Yankees, which is why Boston believes it can win the division and go deep in the playoffs despite the creation of a new Murderer’s Row at Yankee Stadium.

Give Major League Baseball credit for parsing out the head-to-head meetings between these rivals. The Sox play the Yanks at least once each month, 19 games that will culminate in a season-ending showdown at Fenway from Sept. 28-30.

That means we’ll be doing this dance all season. Both teams will go off and beat up on weaker teams, then hook up again a few weeks later. That should keep this rivalry simmering throughout the summer.

The first sparks will fly Tuesday night. By Friday morning fans throughout the Northeast will make snap decisions about the season, even with 150 games remaining.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.