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By Gary W. Marchese Jr.
Bronx, NY (Sept 22) – The New York Yankees played a day/night split doubleheader on Wednesday. They defeated the Rays in both ends of the doubleheader by the score of 4-2. The Yankees also clinched the AL East in the process as the Boston Red Sox continued their collapse as they lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees are your 2011 AL East Division Champions. It seems hard to believe too many people as the Yankees were picked by most experts to finish second or miss the playoffs entirely. The Yankees pieced the game together in the first game with Hector Noesi starting and a host of others backing him up. The second game was CC Sabathia starting, Dave Robertson, and Rafael Soriano finishing it off. The Yankees pitching on this day was excellent. Their hitting was not great as they left a lot of runners on base, but they did enough to win in both games.
In the first game Noesi pitched 2 2/3 innings giving up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out two. Raul Valdes pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up one hit and one walk with three strikeouts, George Kontos pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up a hit and Aaron Laffey pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up a hit and striking out one. Cory Wade pitched 1 1/3 innings giving up a hit and striking out one, Boone Logan pitched 2/3 of an inning giving up a hit and Luis Ayala earned the win pitching 2/3 of an inning and striking out both batters. Ayala is 2-2 on the season, Mariano Rivera picked up his 44th save of the season with a perfect inning striking out one.
In the second game Sabathia started and pitched 7 1/3 innings giving up two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Dave Robertson picked up the win facing one hitter and retiring him on one pitch. Soriano pitched an inning giving up a hit and striking out one to record his second save of the season.
Robinson Cano led the offense in the first game as he had a big two run double. Cano had a hit and two RBI. Brett Gardner had a hit, Derek Jeter had two hits and a walk and Alex Rodriguez had a hit and an RBI. Jorge Posada had a walk, Eduardo Nunez had two hits and an RBI, Rodriguez, and Cano had doubles. Nunez hit a homerun, the Yankees were 1-5 with runners in scoring position and they left four men on base.
In the night game, Gardner had a walk, Nick Swisher had a hit and Curtis Granderson had a hit. Mark Teixeira had two walks, Cano had a hit, RBI and two walks and Posada had a hit and two RBI. The hit for Posada was the game winner and in a very difficult season for him, it was a great moment. Eric Chavez had a walk, Granderson, Swisher had doubles, and Cano hit a homerun. The Yankees were 1-5 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Cano did make an error.
In the first game, the Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Rodriguez RBI double. Desmond Jennings hit a two-run homerun for the Rays in the third inning to give them a 2-1 lead. The game stayed that way until the eighth inning. Nunez hit a solo homerun to tie the game at two and Cano hit a two run double to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. The Yankees would hold on to win the game 4-2.
In the nightcap, the Yankees would take the lead in the second inning on a solo homerun by Cano. The Yankees would take a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a ground ball double play by Jesus Montero. The Yankees could have really jumped out in front, as they had the bases loaded and no outs and only scored once. The Rays would cut the lead in half in the fifth on a Kelly Shoppach solo homerun. In the seventh, Sean Rodriguez hit a solo homerun to tie the game at two. In the eighth inning Posada, pinch-hitting hit a two-run single to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead and that turned out to be the game winning hit. The Yankees won 4-2 and clinched the AL East division as Boston lost at home to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees have won three of the first four against the Rays. The two teams will play one more game on Thursday night. The Yankees still have home field advantage to clinch but that should happen with another win or two. I am sure the Yankees are going to rest some players but it will be interesting to see exactly how they handle it with both the Rays and Red Sox battling for the wild card. The Yankees play three games against the Sox over the weekend and then finish the regular season at Tampa Bay. The Yankees will open up the 2011 ALDS on Friday. The game will be at Yankee Stadium unless something crazy happens and most likely at 8:30PM but nothing is official yet. The Yankees right now would be playing the Texas Rangers but we have to wait and see what the final matchups will look like. It looks like it will come right down to the wire and not be decided until Wednesday of next week.