Raul Ibanez tied the game with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning and won it with a run-scoring single in the 12th as the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 to maintain their one-game American League East lead heading into the regular season’s final day.
The Baltimore Orioles had already won 1-0 at the Tampa Bay Rays last night to pull within a half-game of the Yankees, who trailed 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
In the AL West, the Oakland Athletics defeated Texas 3-1 to tie the Rangers atop the division with 93-68 records -- meaning that title will be decided today when the teams finish their regular season at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s were 13 games behind Texas on June 30.
“We’ve rallied around each other,” Jonny Gomes, who hit a solo homer for the A’s, said in a televised interview. “We got homers, we got good defense and pitching.”
The A’s began the season next-to-last among the 30 Major League Baseball teams with a $55 million payroll, compared with a $121 million payroll for Texas that ranks sixth highest, according to USA Today’s annual survey.
Miguel Cabrera of the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers went 2-for-3 with two runs batted in to solidify his chances of becoming the first MLB player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown. He leads the league in batting average (.331), home runs (44) and RBIs (139).
The Yankees (94-67) and Orioles (93-68) have one game left in the regular season. New York hosts Boston again tonight and the Orioles play their finale at Tampa Bay.
The teams, both assured of making the postseason as a wild card even if they fail to win the division, would meet in a one-game playoff tomorrow in Baltimore to determine the AL East champion if they are tied after today’s games.
New York left eight men on base in the first eight innings and Mark Teixeira grounded into two double plays, both times with runners on first and third base. The Yankees’ only run before the ninth came on a run-scoring infield single by Eduardo Nunez in the second inning.
The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning on a run-scoring double by Dustin Pedroia and a sacrifice fly by Cody Ross. James Loney added a solo homer off Rafael Soriano, the fifth Yankees pitcher, in the ninth inning.
Chris Davis hit a solo home run in the third inning and four Orioles pitchers held the Rays to two hits. It was the 33rd homer of the season for Davis, who has a home run in six straight games.
Miguel Gonzalez (9-4) pitched the first 6 1/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing two hits and striking out seven. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth inning for his 51st save of the season.
James Shields (15-10) took the loss for Tampa Bay despite pitching a complete-game two-hitter and striking out 15.
In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals both won and remain tied for the best record in baseball at 97-64. The Reds have clinched the NL Central division title and the Nationals are winners of the NL East.
Even though they lost 3-1 to the Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the second NL wild-card spot when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost 4-3 to the NL West champion San Francisco Giants. The Atlanta Braves hold the other NL wild-card spot.