Unlike the Yankees, who could afford to send out a "hangover" lineup on Thursday, the Red Sox still have yet to lock up a postseason spot, and having won just five games all month, are in danger of missing the postseason entirely. The Yankees will attempt to make Boston's road to October that much harder on Friday, when they send Freddy Garcia to the mound. They'll face Boston's Jon Lester (15-8, 3.15), who will attempt to stop the bleeding for his team.
Discussion of the Day: Which of the Yankees' prospects who played in Thursday's game are you most excited about following in the coming seasons?
Behind Enemy Lines: Jeremy Lundblad remarks on the historically bad month that Boston's pitchers are having. The Red Sox are just 1-17 when scoring nine runs or less since Hurricane Irene hit before Labor Day.
1) Rob Parker writes that Joe Girardi deserves a lot of credit for the Yankees' success this year.
There are debates about how much a manager actually impacts a game, but the task of managing becomes that much harder when one has to manage egos and fashion a bullpen after two of a team's top three relievers miss significant time with injuries. The Yankees were not predicted to go far this season -- many imagined the wild card, if even that -- but the team could finish with 100 wins (they'd have to win five of their last six games against the Red Sox and Rays, who are both competing for the same playoff spot. It's unlikely, but not impossible). Girardi didn't hit 40 home runs, nor did he win 16 games, but it's hard to imagine the Yankees having been this successful with a different skipper at the helm.
2) New Era has added a new video to its Alec Baldwin/John Krasinski odd-couple campaign. The sentiments of superstition, such as not wanting to move from one's seat for fear of disrupting a game's outcome, are, of course, familiar to many baseball fans.
3) Matt Warden at The Yankee Analysts considers the postseason rotation behind CC Sabathia.
For much of the season it looked as though Bartolo Colon would be the Yankees' game two starter, but Colon has not had a good second half, and concerns about the number of innings he has pitched this season after missing last season would not be unfounded. On the other hand, Ivan Nova has been excellent, allowing more than three runs in a start just once since his return from the minor leagues at the end of July. The low strike out rate would be more concerning, but Nova also has the pitching staff's lowest home run rate outside of Sabathia. If Nova starts the second game of the ALDS, that means a decision between Colon and Garcia would have to be made for game three, which is not an easy choice given the potential for that game to be an elimination one.
4) Mike Vaccaro and Mike Axisa both write that this division title was one worth celebrating (Vaccaro, Axisa).
As noted above, while hardly anyone expected the Yankees to have a poor season, they were not expected to win the division, and would probably end up fighting it out for the wild card. Given the uncertainty in the rotation after Sabathia (and the failure to sign Cliff Lee in the offseason), the declining Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, and the uncertainty of the scrap-heap additions (besides Colon and Garcia, there was also Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones...even Mark Prior, though he didn't appear in a game in the majors), it's not surprising that expectations for the 2011 team were muted. Of course, winning is always that much better when a team is an underdog (as weird as it is to use that word when the Yankees are concerned), and while clinching the division was just the first step, it was certainly a satisfying one.