- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: After 161 games, the Yankees control their own destiny going into the final day of the season after a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Red Sox. If they win on Wednesday, they are the AL East champs and the No. 1 seed.
RAUL SO COOL!: The Yankees brought in Raul Ibanez feeling he could handle the big, clutch moments. Well, he came through in what might have been the biggest and most clutch one of the season. Down 3-1 in the ninth, Ibanez hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer off Andrew Bailey to tie this game at 3.
Ibanez, who has been off and on all year, has hit 11 of his 19 homers in the sixth inning or later.
In the 12th, after Francisco Cervelli and Curtis Granderson two-out walks off Andrew Miller, Ibanez hit a seeing-eye single through the hole on the left side for the win. In the postgame, Nick Swisher doused him with a bucket of ice. Raul was cool, all night.
NO MORE IN NINTH: With one out in the ninth, Derek Jeter smacked a double into the right-field corner to set up the tying run. After an intentional walk to Swisher to get to Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod walked to load the bases for Mark Teixeira. Teixeira -- who had left six men on base already -- flew out to short center. Then Robinson Cano grounded out to second.
BINDER FAIL: Teixeira's OPS against lefties this year is .891, while Cano's OPS against lefties is .640. But Cano entered as the hottest hitter on the planet. So Joe Girardi will have to defend putting Teixeira at cleanup and Cano fifth.
It doesn't make it right.
In the first inning, with runners on first and third and one out, Teixeira came up instead of Cano. Teixeira hit into a bang-bang 6-4-3 double play. In the third, with runners on first and third, Teixeira hit into another 6-4-3 double play.
In the fifth, Teixeira stepped to the plate with two men on, but there were two outs so the good news was he couldn't hit into a double play. The bad news? He tried to, anyway. Teixeira bounced out to short for a forceout to end the inning.
With the game tied, the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Teixeira flew out to center. Cano didn't come through either in the ninth.
Listen, given the results, it is easy to criticize the decision, but it was the wrong one from the start.
Cano has been out-of-this-world great. You have to forget the yearly stats and have him hitting either third or cleanup. The decision comes down to this in the pregame: Who would you rather have up more, Cano or Teixeira? The answer is simple. Cano, in the zone, is as dangerous as anyone in the game.
After his second hit in the sixth, he was 20 for his last 32 (.625) and had seven hits in his last eight at-bats against lefties. Tuesday was his eighth straight multi-hit game. Would the result Tuesday and perhaps the entire season been different if Girardi had made the right call?
Soriano threw a scoreless 10th. He threw 43 pitches, which very well might mean he can't pitch on Wednesday.
PHELPS IS FINE: Girardi's decision to go with David Phelps over Ivan Nova proved right. Phelps pitched well, throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs. He only allowed one more hit after giving up two in the first.
MAJOR LEAGUE START FOR SOX: After the Red Sox started a minor league squad on Monday, the Orioles reportedly were mad. J.J. Hardy even texted Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia, playing with a broken ring finger on his glove hand, started. Following Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff single, Pedroia smacked an RBI double. He would come around to score on Cody Ross' sacrifice fly. It was 2-0 Sawx after one.
SINGLE-ROD: Alex Rodriguez had two dinky singles and has now gone 65 at-bats without a homer.
In the 11th with two outs and a man on, A-Rod nailed a drive into left center that Ellsbury made a very nice play on. It was almost a game-winning RBI double for A-Rod. Rodriguez slammed down his helmet in disgust.
BINDER SCORE:Girardi chose to start Eduardo Nunez over Andruw Jones at DH. In the second, it paid off when Nunez hit a hard one-hopper at Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias could not make the play. It was ruled a hit, but could have been an error. It brought home the Yankees' first run. Nunez added a double in the sixth.
GOOD JOBA:Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless seventh. Chamberlain has not allowed a run in his past 10 1/3 innings. He could prove very important in the postseason.
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT: How do you feel about the Yankees' chances?
4hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
6hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
10hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com
11hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com