The division race is over as the Yankees got the combination they needed to clinch -- a sweep of the Rays in a day-night doubleheader coupled with yet another Red Sox loss to the Orioles. The Yankees took care of business in the Bronx with a pair of 4-2 wins, using seven relievers to piece together the first game and getting a two-run pinch single in the eighth from beleaguered veteran Jorge Posada to win the nightcap.
Good friend of the blog Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post surveyed the champagney scene in the postgame clubhouse. This has been quite a ride for the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez says Joe Girardi should be manager of the year. Pretty good point, although I would imagine Jim Leyland and Joe Maddon are going to get a ton of votes too.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, fell to a stunning 5-16 in September with yet another loss to the Orioles, a 6-4 defeat in their home finale at Fenway. But they somehow went from a two-game lead in the wild card race to 2 1/2 games. The Rays dropped a half with their double loss while the Angels pulled into position at 2 1/2 back with their second straight win in Toronto. Not even a Josh Beckett start or a 4-1 lead could save the Sox, who are in desperation mode to save their season from going down the drain.
“I’ve been here nine years. We’ve never collapsed that bad," said David Ortiz. “Trust me, we’ve been through some tough times. But this is bad. No matter what we do, things are going to be bad. Right now it’s depressing."
The Yankees' magic number to clinch homefield throughout the playoffs is two. The Rays and Yankees meet again tonight, and so do the Angels and Blue Jays. That will leave the wild-card contenders with six games left starting Friday, all played in a pair of three-game series. The remaining sets look like this:
Red Sox: At Yankees, at Orioles
Rays: vs. Blue Jays, vs. Yankees
Angels: vs. Athletics, vs. Rangers
AP Photo: Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera celebrate another division title.
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