-- See Pinstripe Alley for complete discussion and analysis of the Yankees
The New York Yankees have already clinched the American League East title. They could just relax and enjoy the final six games of the regular season. The Yankees, though, get the chance to make the staggering Boston Red Sox squirm this weekend, and you know fans at Yankee Stadium the next three days would love to see them do just that.
The collapsing Red Sox have gone just 5-16 in September, including losses in five of their last six games. The Red Sox have watched a nine-game lead in the American League wild-card race shrivel to just two games over the Tampa Bay Rays, despite Tampa Bay losing three of four to the Yankees this week.
"We're going to have to fight for everything we get the rest of the way out and make it happen to get where we want to go," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "When that happens, hopefully you have a day off to regroup. We certainly haven't made it very easy for ourselves. That doesn't mean we can't get where we want to go. But we have our work cut out for us."
The Red Sox have their ace, Jon Lester, pitching Friday night. Lester (15-8) will be opposed by Freddy Garcia, who is 11-8 with a 3.77 ERA. Garcia is still trying to solidify a spot for himself in the Yankees' postseason starting pitching rotation.
No matter how the wild-card race turns out, and how the Yankees play the final six games, New York will have a hand in determining the outcome. After the series with Boston, the Yankees finish the season with three games in Tampa Bay against the Rays.
American League Wild Card Standings
|Tampa Bay||86||70||.551||2||Won 1|
|Los Angeles||85||71||.544||3||Lost 1|
|Kansas City||68||88||.435||20||Lost 1|
(updated 9.23.2011 at 3:45 PM EDT)