The New York Yankees once again captured an AL East championship, downing the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night to clinch the division. After ensuring a playoff berth with a 4-2 win in the opener of Wednesday's day-night doubleheader, the Yankees needed a Boston Red Sox loss -- which came midway through the nightcap -- and their own win to end the evening with another title.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson left after seven innings and gave way to Jake McGee. Things started off right with a strikeout of Eduardo Nunez, but Nick Swisher reached on a double before being replaced by pinch-runner Greg Golson. The second out of the inning came on a Curtis Granderson fly-out to right field. And then the pitching changes began.
Juan Cruz entered the game to face Mark Teixeira, who walked. Cesar Ramos entered the game for the lefty-lefty matchup against Robinson Cano and wound up intentionally walking the Yankees' second baseman. With the bases loaded, manager Joe Girardi turned to the bench, bringing in Jorge Posada as a pinch-hitter. The veteran delivered a base knock to right-center field, plating two runs for the 4-2 lead.
Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the ninth inning for the Yankees, easily picking up the first two outs. Casey Kotchman, though, prolonged the game with a single. But that was the extent of the Rays threat as Soriano struck out Matt Joyce to end the game and secure the AL East crown.
CC Sabathia allowed both Tampa Bay runs in seven innings on the mound, striking out six.
The Yankees have one more game against the Rays before they play the Red Sox over the weekend. Boston's Wild Card lead is slipping away after another loss to the Orioles as the Red Sox prepare for the weekend's huge series.