Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Tuesday told ESPN New York radio host Michael Kay that beating the New York Yankees for the American League East title really is not all that important.
“I think the idea is because we are all competitive you want to win. Now saying that if you get into the last week of the season what do you sacrifice to win? Do you put a chance on pitchers you know you are going to lean on and pitch them again and not have your rotation lined up? They are things to talk about, but I think if you talk to anyone they want to win and so do we, but at the same time you try to keep track of the bigger picture also because it is important,” Francona said. "Again in 2004 we won 98 games and we were the wild card. We didn’t back in, but we were the wild card because the Yankees won so many games, but because the Yankees closed us out with 4 or 5 games left we were able to set up our pitching and that really helped us get through the first round of the playoffs.”
Not to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for what remains of the three-game series between the Yankees and Red Sox currently being played in Boston, but Francona is right. As division winner or the wild card what is important is not only getting there, but having a rested and ready pitching staff once you do.