The Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night with a 7-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was anticlimactic and a foregone conclusion as the victory elevated them to 99-46, the best record in Major League Baseball and a full nine games in front of the second place Yankees in the race for the American League East division title.
It’s really not a race at all. The Red Sox took control of the division at the outset of August, sweeping the Yankees in a four-game series at Fenway Park. When the carnage was over, the Red Sox were 79-34 while the Yankees fell to 68-42. The Red Sox’ lead has never seriously been threatened since. The Yankees and Red Sox have six more head-to-head games, beginning with a three-game set at Yankee Stadium Sept. 18 and then three games to end the regular season at Fenway Sept. 28 through Sept. 30.
With 16 more games overall each for both teams, the Yankees are still mathematically a contender for the division, but the math reveals it will take one of MLB’s all-time great comebacks or collapses for them to overtake the Red Sox. So the wild-card game is their near certain destination. The primary objective is to host the game. Similar to the division race, it is a sure bet that the Yankees and Oakland A’s will be meeting in the American League one-game elimination.
The sprint for home field has tightened as the A’s were 88-57 and only two games in back of the 90-55 Yankees when they met up with the Baltimore Orioles last night (Wednesday) on the road. The Yanks concluded a three-game series against the Twins in Minnesota only 5-5 in their previous 10 games, including losing two out three versus the A’s in Oakland.
“We’ve got to do better,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “This is the time where we’ve got to start playing up to our capabilities and putting our best foot forward every single day.”
Without Aaron Judge in the lineup, who has been on the disabled list since July 27 with a fractured right wrist, the Yankees have a huge void in their lineup. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year had 52 home runs and 114 RBI a season ago and posted 26 and 61 this season before the injury.