The Yankees' 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays this afternoon (thank you Jesse Litsch) at Yankee Stadium increased the Red Sox lead in the American League East back to two full games. The Red Sox were off today. The lead had dropped back to 1 1/2 games yesterday, as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally figured out how to beat Tim Wakefield in the Tropicana Dome, where he had never lost in his entire career.
The Yankees now head down to St. Pete to play three games with the Rays starting tomorrow night. Tampa Bay has again been a thorn in the side of New York, and they've gone 7-8 against them this year. Scott Kazmir will pitch Wednesday against them. Then they go to Baltimore for the final three. The Orioles have also been tough against them, and overall are 8-7 aginst the Yankees this season.
The O's and Rays maybe the bottom feeders of the AL East, but the Yankees shouldn't look past either of them.
The Red Sox take on Oakland Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and then the Minnesota Twins will conclude the season at Fenway Park this weekend for four games. If the Sox win five of six, they will win the division, no matter what the Yankees do. Curt Schilling and Jon Lester will face the A's in the two-game series. Will Manny Ramirez or Kevin Youkilis be back in the lineup for this series? It's impossible to know about either, but I hear both were at Fenway on Monday testing out their injuries.
With the drop in the Red Sox' Magic Number, we salute the man who was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 and also set the record for most RBIs in a season by a leadoff man. (Remember when he used to hit leadoff?) He had some fabulous years for the Red Sox, and was the centerpiece of the most controversial trade in recent Red Sox history, on July 31, 2004. But it was a trade that eventually helped the Sox get to the Promised Land nearly three months later. It's been a struggle for him since he left Boston, as he's had various injuries, but most Sox fans hope he can get his career back on track.
Anthony Nomar Garciaparra.