NEW YORK -- The Yankees have swept the White Sox. Now, they move up to the varsity Sox with Boston coming to town for four games.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Yankees are 5-1 since our forecast that they needed to finish 21-8 to have a shot at the playoffs. If our calculations prove correct, they need to go 16-7 the rest of the way. That would give them 91 wins.
GOTTA GO TO MO: Girardi then turned to Mariano Rivera for the four-out save. With men on first and second, Rivera struck out Alejandro De Aza on a borderline 3-2 pitch to leave two men on base and preserve the one-run lead. After finishing off the ninth, Rivera now has 41 saves.
On Aug. 7 in Chicago, Girardi turned to Rivera for a four-out save and he couldn't finish it. This time he got it done, notching his first four-out save since July 24, 2011, against Oakland.
CC GRADED ON A CURVE: Give Sabathia some credit because he had a pretty good outing for the first time in a long time. His previous three starts he had given up six runs or more in each. In this one, Sabathia went 7 1/3 innings and allowed just three runs (all earned). Again, the big man deserves some props, but the lowly White Sox offense has to be factored into the equation.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED: Sabathia struggled in the first inning, but kept the damage to just one run. Sabathia made his own mess by walking two White Sox before allowing Garcia's RBI double. He escaped further damage by forcing Jeff Keppinger to ground out.
WELCOME TO THE BIGS, ROOK: With two outs in the first, Robinson Cano smoked a solo shot off rookie Erik Johnson. Cano's 26th homer would be the only run that Johnson, making his major league debut, would allow in the inning -- though it could have been much worse. The Yankees loaded the bases with two outs, but Ichiro Suzuki struck out to end the inning.
TAKING COMMAND: In the fourth, the Yankees took control of the game by scoring four off Johnson. A-Rod started it all off with a single. Next, Johnson forgot how to make a simple throw to first base and Ichiro was on as well. Given the green light on 3-0, Lyle Overbay smacked an RBI double. Following an out, Brett Gardner nailed a two-run triple to give the Yankees a 5-1 advantage.
INSURANCE: In the seventh, Alfonso Soriano added a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1. It would prove important later.
ON TAP: The Yankees have a crucial four-game series with the first place Boston Red Sox. It is not so much that they can get back in the AL East race. They were eight out heading into Thursday, but they need to keep winning to continue their push toward the wild card.
The pitching matchups against the Red Sox are as follows: Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88) vs. Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91) on Thursday; Friday, it's Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01) vs. Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89); Saturday, David Huff (2-0, 3.32) vs. John Lackey (8-12, 3.22); Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99) vs. Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88).
SINCE RYAN DEMPSTER HIT A-ROD: Counting that Sunday, the Yankees are now 12-5 since Ryan Dempster drilled A-Rod at Fenway. Dempster will not take the mound in the Bronx as he started on Wednesday for Boston.