Granderson hit 2 homers to power Yankees to AL East title
It took until the final game of the regular season, but the New York Yankees finally won the American League East with a 95-67 record. On a night where the Baltimore Orioles lost 4-1 to guarantee a division title for New York, the Yankees crushed the Red Sox, 14-2, to clinch home field advantage and the league’s best record.
The Bronx Bombers will wait until Sunday to play again and will go on the road either to Texas or Baltimore depending on who wins the one game wildcard playoff. The division series will take place Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and if necessary, Thursday and Friday. For Texas, Yu Darvish will pitch to try to extend the season and return home. For the Orioles. either Steve Johnson or Joe Saunders will pitch since Chris Tillman, the Orioles’ hottest starter, pitched on Tuesday.
A huge benefit for the Yankees is not necessarily the match-ups all five American League teams have a pretty good shot at reaching the World Series. Instead it’s that the Yankees will have a rotation of: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes waiting and on full rest for the best of five series.
If the Rangers win, Darvish will likely not be available until game three and the rest of the Texas pitchers are not very imposing. Not having its best pitcher ready to face Sabathia would certainly put the two-time defending champions at a disadvantage, even with the game in Arlington.
If the Orioles win, Tillman is not going to be on full rest until game two, and if the O’s go with the veteran Saunders for the wildcard game, he would likely not be ready until game three. In either situation, the Yankees will face a rotation that is not set to the best of its ability and that can only benefit the team.
The outlook of making a postseason run looks a lot better than it did a couple of weeks ago. New York finished with its biggest division lead since before September 3rd. Mark Teixeira, Sabathia, Pettitte and Brett Gardner are all fully healthy. The bullpen will be fully rested, and Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher have been red hot. With those additions, the Yankees were able to finish strongly winning its final four games, six of eight and 17 of 24 dating back to September 9th. The Rangers, by contrast, lost its final three games, the American League West, home field advantage and 7 of 9 overall.
With full health, home field advantage, a set rotation and a rested bullpen, the Yankees have little reason not to make a deep run.
Of course, as their own radio announcer, John Sterling, often reminds us, “you just can’t predict baseball”.