(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees still control their own destiny thanks
to Raul Ibanez's heroics on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they try to nail down their
12th American League East crown in the last 15 years by sweeping the Boston
Red Sox in the finale of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Ibanez smacked a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the
ninth inning and later drove in the deciding run with a single in the 12th as
the Yankees rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox and reduced their magic
number for clinching the division to one.
New York, which entered the night 0-58 when down heading into the ninth
inning, won for the third time in a row and maintained a one-game edge on
Baltimore for first place heading into Wednesday.
Either a Yankees' win in the finale or an Orioles' loss to Tampa Bay would
give the Bronx Bombers the division crown. If New York loses on Wednesday and
the Orioles win, however, the two playoff-bound teams would face one another
in Baltimore on Thursday to decide the AL East.
A Yankees win would also give them the top seed in the AL heading into the
"It was awesome," said Ibanez afterward. "It's awesome to be a part of
something like that and be able to contribute, especially during a time like
this when we know we need those wins."
Onetime Red Sox hurler Derek Lowe (9-11) tossed two scoreless innings of
relief to earn the win for New York, which prevailed despite stranding 14
runners on base. The Yankees outhit Boston by a 16-8 margin for the night.
Dustin Pedroia, playing with a recently fractured finger, went 2-for-5 with an
RBI double in Boston's seventh straight defeat and 11th setback in 12 games.
James Loney had a solo homer in the loss.
Heading to the hill for New York will be righty Hiroki Kuroda, who will set a
new career high on Wednesday with his 33rd start of the year, and his 212 2/3
innings are already the most of his big league career.
Kuroda, who has made three playoff starts in his career, has won three of his
last four decisions and is 15-11 with a 3.34 ERA on the year.
"I think it's important, because it's a guy that's pitched in big games in his
career before," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You don't want him to get
caught up in, 'This could mean this, or this could mean that.' Just go out and
execute pitches. I love having a veteran out there."
Boston, meanwhile, will turn to a Japanese hurler of its own in Daisuke
Matsuzaka, who will likely be making his final start as a member of the Red
Matsuzaka never lived up to the billing for the Red Sox and this year he's
been awful, going a miserable 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA. He's 17-21 with a 5.42 ERA
in 55 games since the start of 2009.
"It's been really hard to keep the positive going, so far," Matsuzaka said
through an interpreter. "As always I'm disappointed in myself for not helping
my team out."
New York is 12-5 against the Red Sox this season.
The Sports Network