The New York Yankees are still the Bombers. They can beat the Red Sox with one big stroke, like Matt Holliday’s three-run homer Saturday.

And even though New York will finish the season with a winning record against Boston, the Red Sox must like where they stand with four weeks to go – 4½ games ahead of New York in the American League East.

Granted, Red Sox fans may not love everything about their team – do they ever, especially after a loss to the Yankees? But Boston is in control.

New York looks less sure of itself. Are the Yankees contenders or not?

When the Yankees lost both ends of a doubleheader last Wednesday to Cleveland, their concerns grew – from trying to catch the Red Sox to failing to reach the playoffs. While New York was looking up to Boston, the Twins, Angels and Orioles were crowding the Yankees in the wild-card race.

“I know what’s going on around us,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi told the New York press last Wednesday. “I don’t have my head in the sand.”

New York is clawing its way down the stretch, still the top wild-card team.

The Red Sox are grinding with different, higher goals in mind.

Coming into Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox wanted to extend their AL East lead, bury the Yankees and challenge for the best record in the league, assuring home-field advantage in the playoffs.

After Saturday’s 5-1 loss, not a lot has changed.

The Red Sox (77-59) indeed look like a playoff team but not the best one. The Yankees (72-63) are hanging around, just close enough to be a pain.

New York clinched the season series against Boston, 10-8, with one game remaining Sunday night. It should be a good one, with Chris Sale (15-6, 2.77 ERA) against Luis Severino (11-6, 3.14).

While a Sale start usually inspires confidence, he is winless (0-2) in four starts against the Yankees despite a 2.12 ERA against them.

Sale leads a staff that features the second-best ERA in the league, but those pitchers are backed by an offense that is middle of the pack (seventh) in runs and last in home runs.

Boston can slump – witness the four-game losing streak that ended last Sunday – so while the Red Sox aim at passing Houston and Cleveland for the league’s best record, they need to check the rear mirror. The Yankees are too close to relax.

Give Boston credit for building this much of a cushion. Remember that New York ended July a half-game ahead of Boston, bolstered by trade-deadline deals that brought two starters, two relievers and slugging third baseman Todd Frazier.

Boston countered with one reliever (Addison Reed) and one infielder (Eduardo Nunez).

It was thought that the Red Sox lost out when New York got Frazier. But since coming to New York he’s batting .216 with five home runs.

Nunez has been better than advertised, batting .312 with eight home runs – and able to play third, short and second base. When Dustin Pedroia was down, Nunez kept the lineup buzzing.

Reed gives Boston a needed eighth-inning guy in front of Craig Kimbrel.

New York hasn’t received quite the bump from its trades. Sonny Gray (2-4, 3.16) does solidify the rotation, but Jaime Garcia is 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA. Reliever David Robertson (0.90 WHIP) is helping, though Tommy Kahnle (1.32 WHIP) not as much.

New York got a bigger boost from players coming off the disabled list, including Holliday, first baseman Greg Bird, and Saturday’s winning pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka.

Much is made of Aaron Judge’s struggles (.176, seven home runs since the All-Star break), but the Yankees’ lineup can still mash.

The Red Sox can hit – three home runs Friday night – but there are struggles. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is batting .205 with two home runs since the break.

If Bogaerts’ woes continue, Nunez could wind up the starting shortstop, especially when Pedroia is ready to play every day.

Every team has its issues. Boston has been able to cover up its problems for the most part – like Doug Fister becoming a rotation stalwart.

September will be interesting. It’s the Red Sox and Yankees. Boston should emerge on top.

But how about those teams Boston is trying to catch for league supremacy?

Houston continues to feature the best record – 81-53, entering Saturday night’s game against the Mets. The Astros appeared to be fading but just got a big boost in dealing for Justin Verlander. Plus, Houston has another intangible – they have a new mission, to not only win baseball games but lift the spirits of a region ravaged by Hurricane Harvey (remember the Red Sox’s drive after the 2013 Marathon bombing?).

These Astros remain a force and heck, it’s hard to root against them.

Then there are the Cleveland Indians (78-56 entering Saturday). They could again be the No. 2 seed in the league and play host to No. 3 Boston. That scenario did not play so well last year for the Red Sox.

Boston acquired Sale to be better than 2016. The tall left-hander may do just that – especially if he can help the Red Sox get on a roll in the stretch run.

A win Sunday night against the Yankees would be good for starters.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: @ClearTheBases