<
>

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Rays 2


Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: Less than seven hours after clinching a playoff spot, the Yankees have clinched the AL East division title.

And they have the much-maligned Jorge Posada (and the choking Red Sox) to thank for it.

Posada, who has had a tough time adjusting to life as a part-time DH this season, lined a two-run pinch-hit single to right field to give to break a 2-2 tie in the eighth. Rafael Soriano pitched a clean ninth to close it.

The win, combined with the Red Sox loss to the Orioles earlier Wednesday, sewed up the Yankees' 12th AL East title in 16 seasons. They secured theirr 16th playoff appearance in the last 17 seasons with a win in the first game of Wednesday's double-header against Tampa.

HIP, HIP, JORGE: Posada pinch-hit for Jesus Montero with the bases loaded in the eighth. In just his 13th plate appearance this month, Posada came up clutch. He lined a fastball from Brandon Gomes to right field to score two and essentially lock down the division crown.

HOUDINI SHOWS UP AGAIN: Entering play Wednesday night, David Robertson had faced 18 hitters with the bases loaded in 2011. He has struck out 14 of those hitters, including 10 in a row. He took the ball from CC Sabathia with one out in the eighth and the bases loaded on Wednesday. And while Robertson didn't record a strikeout, he still came through, getting Ben Zobrist to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

CC STUCK ON 19: For the third straight start, Sabathia came up short in his bid to win No. 20. Sabathia was probably two mistakes away from win No. 20 on Wednesday. He struck out six, walked two and lasted into the eighth but allowed two homers -- one to Kelly Shoppach in the fifth and a tying shot to Sean Rodriguez in the seventh. He walked off the mound with the game tied at 2-2.

Curiously, Joe Girardi allowed Sabathia to throw 127 pitches. Sabathia has thrown at least 120 pitches in three of his last five starts.

CANO MAKES AMENDS: Robinson Cano let Johnny Damon's ground ball go through his legs in the second inning, forcing Sabathia to pitch out of a jam. He made up for it in the bottom of the inning by drilling a home run to right. It was his 27th of the season. He is now two shy of his career-high, set in 2010.

SOX SLIDE CONTINUES: The crowd in the Bronx cheered loudly when Stadium operators posted the final score of Boston's 6-4 loss to Baltimore on the JumboTron. The Red Sox, who hit the road to play three against the Yankees over the weekend, have lost 14 of 18.

WHAT'S NEXT: Thursday's series finale against Tampa. Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.81) will face Jeff Niemann (11-7, 3.85).