Yankees Clinch AL East TitleBy Daniel J.
After engaging in the tightest of division races with the Baltimore Orioles last month, the New York Yankees did what they usually do and came out on top at the end. Last night’s 14-2 victory over the hapless Boston Red Sox gave New York its 13th AL East title in 17 years.
“It was difficult. Come into the last day of the season, nobody knows what’s going on. We’ve been taking it one day at a time for quite some time,” Yankee captain Derek Jeter said in an espn.com game recap. “It feels good.”
The Yankees battled the pesky Orioles all season long. Baltimore climbed back in the race after being 10 games back in July was tied with New York ten days out of September. The Orioles and Yankees may meet again in the postseason, as Baltimore will play the Rangers in a one-game wild card playoff for a chance to play New York in the divisional series.
New York’s lead in the East started slipping as the team’s injuries continued to pile up. Andy Pettitte was out for much of the season, as was Alex Rodriguez and ace C.C. Sabathia. However, instead of hitting the panic button, the veteran club regrouped and stayed strong together.
“I think having that experience in there when it got to zero no one panicked,” said manager Joe Girardi. “They had the same personality every day. The looseness, some of the guys were goofy.”
Yankee hitters certainly enjoyed themselves last night, as New York put 14 runs on the board against their struggling rival, Boston. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano both homered twice, with Cano’s coming in back-to-back at-bats. Cano was also 4-4 on the night and drove in six runs in the rout. The four homeruns also helped set a new Yankee franchise record for long-balls in a season at 245.
Even though several teams in the NL finished with better regular season records, odds makers are still favoring AL squads in World Series futures. As of Tuesday, the Yankees and Rangers were tied as the overall favorites at 5/1 odds, while the Nationals and Reds were both at 6/1. The Yankees advantage is largely due to the fact that they have home-field throughout the postseason, but also due to their wealth of playoff experience.
The Yankees will start their bid for an American sports league record 28th championship on Sunday, October 7. New York will have a big edge against whichever team comes out of the wild card game in game one of the divisional series because it will have Sabathia on the hill, but Baltimore or Texas will not have their aces available since they will likely play them for Friday’s game. As if New York needed any more advantages.
The bottom-line is take New York in not only game one of the divisional round, but to win the AL pennant and go to the World Series. Right now they are the favorites to take home another World Series title and that wouldn’t be a bad bet, but I still like Cincinnati and Washington too much to dismiss them. We will have to wait and see how round one of the playoffs plays out and then look to make smart wagers in the league championship series.