First Pitch: Scheduled to win the East

The Yankees host the A's Friday to Sunday, but besides that their schedule looks as if it were put together by Jim Boeheim. They host Toronto for three games this week at the Stadium and then play four in Toronto Sept. 27-30. The Blue Jays are fighting for last with the Red Sox, the club the Yankees end the season with at home.

The Yankees' only other three games are in Minnesota against a Twins team that is trying to avoid finishing in the AL Central basement.

In other words, if the Yankees don't win this division, then these next few weeks will be embarrassing to the organization and torturous to the team's fans.

Now, to be fair, Baltimore's schedule is not exactly hard, either. The Orioles play the Red Sox six times (home and away). They face the Blue Jays six times (including a doubleheader). Baltimore's next three are against the improved Mariners, and they finish at Tampa Bay for the final three. That's harder than the Yankees' finish, but not by much.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has a nice stretch. The Rays' next nine are against the Red Sox and Blue Jays (six against Boston) before finishing with four at the White Sox and their final three at home against the Orioles.

ON DECK: Wallace Matthews will prepare you for Andy Pettitte's return on Tuesday night. Look for his column.

IN THE HOLE: The Yankees and Blue Jays play three starting Tuesday. The matchups: Andy Pettitte (3-3, 3.22) vs. Ricky Romero (8-14, 5.87); Wednesday, Phil Hughes (15-12, 3.96) vs. Henderson Alvarez (9-12, 4.91); Thursday, CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.63) vs. Aaron Laffey (3-5, 4.55).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: With the easy schedule, does anyone think the Yankees will not win the division?