- Andrew Marchand, ESPNNewYork.com
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WHAT IT MEANS: With the Orioles' loss in Tampa and the Bombers' 10-2 victory tonight, the Yankees are alone in first in the AL East. With a win on Tuesday and an Orioles loss, they will be the East champs. By the end of play tonight, the Yankees could be atop the AL if Texas loses to Oakland.
SECOND TO NONE: The Yankees scored nine runs off Clay Buchholz and reliever Alfredo Aceves. They nailed four homers in the inning, which tied a franchise record. They did it just two previous times. The nine runs were the most since they scored 12 off of Baltimore in the first inning on July 30, 2011.
For Buchholz, the eight runs he gave up in less than two innings made some history. A Red Sox starter had never done that against the Yankees, according to Elias.
CANO CARRYING THEM: This was the year I thought Robinson Cano might win an MVP. Instead, it has been a rather inconsistent one, but he is now scorching hot. In the second, Cano hit an absolute bomb of a homer off Buchholz. Cano would later have a two-run double in the second.
In the fourth inning, he nailed another double, meaning Cano had 17 hits in past 27 at-bats. He was retired his final two at-bats. Not bad, not bad at all.
41: Also in the second and with a man on, Curtis Granderson sent a long ball that snuck just inside the right-field foul pole. It was Granderson's 41st homer of the season. Granderson tied his career home run mark set last year. He always likes to say he is not a home run hitter, but he entered hitting .226 and now has hit 82 homers the past two years. Granderson is a home run hitter and not much else at the plate.
BACK-TO-BACK: After Granderson's homer, Russell Martin went yard. It was the 12th time this season the Yankees have gone back-to-back.
TEX BACK: Mark Teixeira, who had missed 30 of the past 31 games, greeted Aceves with the Yankees' fourth homer of the second inning.
A-ROD GETS AN RBI: Every Yankee scored in the second except for Alex Rodriguez. However, A-Rod did pick up an RBI on a sacrifice fly. It was his first RBI since Sept. 19 (50 at-bats). He hasn't hit a home run since Sept. 14. He has gone 61 at-bats without one.
CC DOES THE JOB: Of course, he was facing Pawtucket, but that was not CC Sabathia's fault. Without Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury, Sabathia faced a Triple-A lineup and threw eight innings of two-run ball. He threw 101 pitches. On the year, CC finished 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA. He threw 200 innings. Pretty good for what at times seemed like an off year.
It will be interesting to find out if Joe Girardi thought about lifting Sabathia earlier to preserve him for a possible wild-card game on Friday.
THE GARDNER RETURNS: Brett Gardner, hitting for the first time since April, grounded out as a pinch hitter.
THE MELK MAN DELIVERS: Melky Mesa, he of the dubious baserunning, got his first hit in his first career at-bat, pinch-hitting for A-Rod, with a hard RBI single to left.
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT:How do you feel about the Yankees' position now?
WHAT IT MEANS: With the Orioles' loss in Tampa and the Bombers' 10-2 victory tonight, the Yankees are alone in first in the AL East. With a win on Tuesday and an Orioles loss, they will be the East champs.