Results tagged ‘ AL West ’
Forget all those scenarios about the different possibilities facing the Yankees in postseason play based on what they and Baltimore and Oakland and Texas did Wednesday. The Yanks did what they had to do Wednesday night for the best-case scenario without any assistance from anyone.
The Yankees are not only going to the playoffs but also as the top seed in the American League with the best overall record. Their convincing 14-2 victory over the Red Sox that completed a three-game sweep gave the Yankees their 13th division title over the past 17 seasons and 18th overall. They also bought some time to rest up for their 51st postseason appearance which will begin Sunday in the AL Division Series at the home park of the winner of Friday night’s Wild Card Game between the Orioles and the Rangers.
For the record, the Yankees clinched the division title while they were still at bat in the seventh inning when the Rays’ 4-1 final over the Orioles was announced. The Yanks were accorded a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,393. Earlier in the day, the Athletics crushed the Rangers, 12-5, to displace Texas atop the AL West and earn an ALDS date with the Al Central champion Tigers.
“We still wanted to win our game for the fans,” Derek Jeter said after the game in which he got his major-league-leading 216th hit. “They have been behind us all year.”
The Yankees may have lost all of the 10-game lead in the division they had built up by July 18 but never relinquished first place entirely. They had at least a portion of the lead for 114 days since June 12, and on the last day they were all alone atop the division and the league.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson combined to drive in 10 of the Yankees’ runs and had two home runs each as the Yankees set a franchise record with 245, besting by one the previous mark set in 2009, the last time they won the World Series.
Cano continued his steamy pace with his career-high ninth consecutive multi-hit game, a 4-for-4 gem that included his 32nd and 33rd home runs, two singles, a walk, three runs and six RBI. The second baseman batted .615 with seven doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 39 at-bats in the nine-game stretched and raised his season batting average an astonishing 20 points to .313.
Granderson, the guy who keeps telling everybody that he is not a home run hitter, smacked Nos. 42 and 43 and drove in four runs to finish the season with 105. Yankees manager Joe Girardi must not think of Granderson as a homer hitter, either, because in pinch hitting for his center fielder with rookie Melky Mesa in the seventh inning denied Granderson an opportunity to tie Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera for the league lead.
By that time, Girardi was substituting freely as if a spring-training game to give as many players as possible a chance to appear in the last regular-season game and receive the fans’ appreciation for a wonderful run that can only get better with a successful postseason that the 2010 edition of the Yankees truly earned.
The Yankees got their first look the past three nights at the team that won the American League pennant the past two years and they had to conclude that the road to the 2012 World Series will go through Texas.
This was the only trip to Texas this year for the Yankees, who won’t face the Rangers until a four-game series at Yankee Stadium in mid-August. By then, Lord knows how far Texas will be leading the AL West. With Wednesday night’s 7-3 victory over the Yankees, the Rangers kept their five-game lead in the division and extended their spread to 8 ½ games over the last-place Angels, who had been expected to be the main threats against Texas out west.
The Yankees got good starts from CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in splitting the first two games at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington, but Phil Hughes couldn’t survive the third inning in the finale and put his club in an early hole in a game in which the Rangers were using five relievers to get through the game.
David Phelps, who has been mentioned as a possible starter down the road, has his first rough outing by allowing three runs and five hits, two of which were long home runs by Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland. Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano handled the Rangers quite well, but the offense could not overcome the early deficit.
It is far too early to go overboard about the standings, but the Yankees fell out of a first-place tie in the AL East that is no between the Blue Jays, which is no surprise, and the Orioles, which is. Except for Raul Ibanez, who drove in two runs with his third home run and a sacrifice fly, and Derek Jeter, who ran his hitting streak to 15 games with two more hits and is batting .420, the Yankees’ bats were mostly mute and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
It doesn’t get easier for the Yankees, who will come home to face the Detroit team that ousted them from the playoffs last year. However, the Tigers have lost five of their past six games and find themselves in a dogfight in the AL Central with the Indians and White Sox.
Enough of this playoff preview stuff already. That seems to be the theme a lot of writers and broadcasters are taking to describing the Yankees-Rangers series this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Except that it really isn’t.
Yes, if the season ended today the Yankees and Rangers would oppose each other in the American League Division Series. Yes, there is a good chance the Yankees will win the AL East and the Rangers the AL West. There are still four weeks left in the season. A lot can happen. The Yankees may have to settle for a wild-card berth, which would mean an ALDS date with the Twins instead.
Yet even if the Yankees and the Rangers are destined to meet in the playoffs, this series is no preview. A big to begin with is that Texas is currently without its best player, center fielder Josh Hamilton, who probably won’t play in this series while still recovering from a strained left ribcage. Hamilton just happens to be the leading candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
The Yankees’ rotation is another clue that this is no playoff preview. Does anyone believe for a minute that Javier Vazquez, Friday night’s starter, or Dustin Moseley, the projected starter for Sunday, would be in the rotation for a playoff series? Heck, the way he is going lately, Saturday night’s scheduled starter, A.J. Burnett, may be considered iffy as a post-season starter as well.
Yankees regular catcher Jorge Posada, who has been cleared to play after tests for concussion symptoms were negative, was available as a pinch hitter only and probably just in an emergency situation. Andy Pettitte, one of baseball’s top post-season pitchers, was to report to Texas Saturday after an encouraging start at Double A Trenton Thursday night. The lefthander will need to make one more minor-league start or simulated game before returning for major-league action not before Sunday, Sept. 19, at Baltimore.
It cannot be much of a playoff preview if that many significant players who could be major factors a month from now are missing, so let’s tone down the rhetoric.