The importance of clinching this weekend


Last night, for what seems like the first time in a while, the Yankees’ magic number did not budge. It remains at a Ruthian three, and with Boston taking the night off it can only move down one tonight. It might not seem like a bit deal either way; there will be three more Yankees’ wins or Red Sox losses this season. But a win tonight does give the team an advantage heading into the final 10 days of the season. It means that just one win this weekend seals the playoff spot.

Winning the AL East does hold some significance. It means not only facing a theoretically weaker opponent in the ALDS, but it also means home field advantage in the first two rounds. Girardi has gone on record saying they want to win the East. As well they should. But it shouldn’t come at the expense of the big postseason picture. While home field advantage is nice, it’s not as nice as having a well rested crew.

Once the team clinches a playoff spot, Girardi can ease off his relievers for a bit. The top guys have been pressed into duty frequently in the past few weeks and have often been unavailable. Once they clinch up Girardi can throw them a couple of times to keep them sharp, but can generally give them a breather heading into what promises to be an intense month. The same goes for the starters. Clinching over the weekend means that they can rearrange the rotation to fit the playoff schematic. It also means that the playoff starters can go a short five in their final starts.

On offense, the assurance of a playoff spot means that banged up players can take a quick breather. This isn’t to say that the starters should sit regularly, but rather that they could get a day or two where they wouldn’t otherwise. The 29th in Toronto presents an opportunity, since there’s an off-day the next day. Sitting Swisher, Teixeira, and Posada that day makes sense, since it essentially gives them two straight days off. They’ll then have a three-game tune-up in Boston to get back into the swing of things before the ALDS begins.

Before they can think of any of this, they need to get that magic number from three to zero. With a series against Boston this weekend that moment should come soon enough. But a win tonight will go a long way. It means that just one win puts the playoff spot in the bag and allows the Yanks to maneuver as they see best fit in the season’s final week. That seems like a perfect interval. It’s not too long, but it’s still ample time to let some wounds heal and line up the rotation. That might cost the team the East, but at this point I’d far rather the Yanks head into the playoffs a healthy and rested team without home field than an exhausted one that gets an extra home game per series.

Categories : Musings


  1. ryan says:

    Winning the east does NOT mean home field throughout the postseason.. They still have to have a better record than the Twins

  2. Yank the Frank says:

    I thought that was what we were doing.

  3. Andrew says:

    I think Girardi is in a no-win situation. He has publicly said they want to win the division, which is the right thing to say. If he says “I want to rest guys and will settle for the Wild Card if it comes to that”, he will get absolutely ripped to pieces and who knows what the players would think of that attitude, thus creating a nightmare in general.

    But then by saying that re: AL East publicly, whenever he does try to rest guys and turns to the likes of Gaudin/Moseley/Alby/etc., or doesn’t deploy The A Lineup, he is ripped anyway for using doublespeak and not actually trying to win the division.

    On the flipside if he went balls to the wall and sent Robertson out there with a bit of a sore back, pitched Chamberlain on Monday when they needed him even though he threw in 4 of the previous 5 games, didn’t give guys in the lineup days off even after sewing up the Wild Card because they are neck-and-neck with TB, I still think Girardi would get ripped.

    Because after all, they are only gaining potentially that 1 extra home game by winning the east! And if the team is banged up/pushing hard into Game 162, it could insure an early October exit what with this older lineup and overtaxed bullpen.

  4. jsbrendog (returns) says:

    too bad lance berkman can’t hit the warning track!


  5. Esteban says:

    Do it for Mark!

  6. jace says:

    Yes the Twins who played dismantled teams with Triple-A players, while the Yankees/Rays played real division teams.

  7. Ace says:

    Yes the Twins who played dismantled teams with Triple-A players, while the Yankees/Rays played real division teams.

  8. The good news is, we’re about to enter the easiest stretch on our schedule by far:

    After tonight, 66% of our remaining games are against Boston.

    • While the rumors of Boston’s demise have been widely reported, no one can question the heart and soul of this Red Sox team is alive and well. Kevin Youkilis tells me that he’s still hopeful he can be ready to play come playoff time, meanwhile Dustin Pedroia is seeking a second opinion on needing another foot surgery. My guess is that – if Boston can pull an unlikely but not impossible comeback and knock the Yankees or Rays out of the playoffs – nothing will keep those guys off the field.

      Meanwhile, Adrian Beltre leads the league in one-legged home runs, something no one is talking about. For shame.

      If Boston can sweep all 6 games with the Yankees and the Yankees lose every game left in the season, the Red Sox are still in this thing. Is it slightly unlikely? Sure. But who can forget 2004?

      For Diamond Cutters, this is Peter Gammons.

      • Steve H says:

        To add on, it’s a shame that Boston is gutting it out the way they are with nothing to play for. Unfortunately the Yankees and Rays are pretty sure they are in the playoffs so they can rest up and set their rotations. One of them will be the Wild Card. If it’s truly a “Wild Card” shouldn’t we not know who it is until just before the playoffs. My recommendation is that teams that finish 1st and 2nd in the Wild Card standings have a one game playoff to decide who the real Wild Card team is. The one caveat however, is that if the Sox are not 2nd in the Wild Card standings, they deserve to be in the one game playoff simply to reward their heart and grit. If they lose that one game, it becomes a best of 3. If the lose the best of 3 it becomes a best of 5. And if they lose that, the Sox should replace the AL Central winner in the playofs. Besides, what’s a playoffs without the one team with 5 Aces in it’s rotation?

        For MLBN, I’m John Kruk

      • Klemy says:

        You’ve got this Gammons thing down to a science, Ross. lol

  9. Pat D says:

    Winning tonight is important, methinks too. Not only does it mean it only takes one win to clinch this weekend, but if they finish this series with a 2 game lead, they still have a really good chance to win the division no matter how easy the remaining Rays’ schedule is. If they win tonight, they could go 5-4 and Tampa would have to go 8-2 to tie them.

  10. Brian says:

    Just an interesting story to pass along:
    I am a diehard Yankees fan who lives in Boston and takes the MBTA to & from work daily. 82 times a year it helps me to bond with the cretins known as Red Sox Nation. Yesterday evening, as I entered one of the main stations (Park Street), the crush of the Nation trying to get to “America’s Most Beloved Park” led to a stampede on the platform. One of the T workers comes on over the loudspeaker with the following announcement: “There is no reason to hurry, because the Sox are’t making the playoffs, anyway.” Watching the fans trudge across the platform to wait for the next train was priceless!

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