NEW YORK — Yankees general manager Brian Cashman might not have to worry about his team being a wild-card entry. After a 10-2 win over Boston Monday night coupled with Tampa Bay’s win over Baltimore, the Yankees were back alone in first place in the American League East with two games to play.
The game at Yankee Stadium went according to script — the Yankees bombarded Clay Buchholz for eight runs in 1⅔ innings, and CC Sabathia easily handled Boston’s horrible lineup.
“The bottom line is they’ve set up a situation that winning the division matters,” Cashman said before the game. “The addition of the wild card that Bud Selig put into play has been tremendous. Now obviously it has evolved where divisional champ became irrelevant and now it’s important again. It’s what it’s supposed to be.”
The Yankees, particularly Robinson Cano, who went 3 for 5 with a home run and two doubles, were buoyed by the win. It was also Sabathia’s third straight good outing. Manager Joe Girardi allowed Sabathia to go eight innings in winning his 15th game, and later explained, “I’m not thinking about down the road. I’m thinking about winning the game today. I want a full bullpen tomorrow.”
Cano is about as locked in at the plate as he’s been all season.
“I’ve been up and down and things have changed around at the right time when we really need it right now,” Cano said.
The second baseman, who hiked his average to .308, said he can’t help but scoreboard watch with Baltimore.
“You look to the board to see the score of that game. It’s hard not to, but we can’t worry about the Orioles. We need to win these games,” Cano said.
Cano played a big role in the Yankees’ nine-run second inning, hitting a solo home run and a two-run double.
“It’s great to see,” Girardi said. “That was some kind of inning we put up. It started with Robbie. You love that type of lead and let CC go to work and take care of it.”
Girardi said the win and the fact the Yankees have not fallen out of first place “show the resiliency of this team. These guys don’t give up. They keep fighting. It was great to see what we did tonight, but now we have to focus on the next two games and get the job done.
“I’m glad we have the lead, sure beats the alternative.”
So Cashman may get his wish about winning the division.
“If you asked me in spring training, I want to win the division and if not I’ll take a wild card. Right now I want the division, and I think the Orioles will say the same thing. They’ll say they’re happy to have the wild card. I’d rather win the division because it’s less heartache. Whatever. Bottom line is we want to be the last team standing.
“There are different routes to take. The wild card can win it — I won’t say just as easily — it’s in theory a better way to go than the heart-attack way,” Cashman said.
It appears the Yankees don’t have to worry about wild cards. They’re playing the Red Sox.
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Bobby Valentine, a former Mets manager, was a subject of conversation and debate here. He was asked the usual questions about his future and gave the usual shrugs.
Valentine has a huge contingent of media supporters in New York from his time with the Mets, and they have watched the Red Sox saga unfold. Most of them understand that Valentine had a lack of support from management from the outset and that he seemed doomed to failure with a subpar roster. They also understand that Valentine can create his own problems by being too honest.
And then Ben Cherington shows up here, driving up speculation that Valentine would be gone before the end of the Yankee series. The Sox GM dodged questions about Valentine to those reporters who asked and told some that he would address the situation Tuesday, whatever that means.
The prevailing theory is that the Red Sox will fire Valentine on Friday, though the team claims such meetings have not been scheduled. Valentine remains completely unaware of what may happen.
As one press box veteran at Yankee Stadium said after a series vs. the Blue Jays, “The Yankees are hoping they get John Farrell.”
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According to a major league source, Orioles folks weren’t thrilled to see the Red Sox lineup Monday night. Dustin Pedroia was out with a jammed left finger and Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been nursing a lat strain, also was held out against Sabathia.
The entire Red Sox roster has been a joke since the big deal with the Dodgers.
“Can’t wait to watch the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Yankees in a game that’s pretty important to the AL East race,” said a longtime National League scout. “Are the Red Sox trying to help the Yankees win this thing? I’ve never seen such a weak roster.”
Said another major league official, “The Yankees have five potential Hall of Famers at the top of their order. The Red Sox have guys who don’t even know where the Hall of Fame is.”
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David Ortiz’s agent, Fern Cuza, was at Yankee Stadium to meet with his clients, including Jose Iglesias and Cody Ross. Cuza would not speak on the record but he hopes to get some dialogue going with the Red Sox on a deal for Ortiz very soon.
Ortiz is seeking a two-year deal to finish his career in Boston. The Sox have held off offering him a legitimate two-year deal. They made a low-ball offer last offseason for $18 million when Ortiz wanted $25 million.
Among the reasons Ortiz may get only a one-year offer:
■ His age (he’ll be 37 in November) and the fact that he had a heel issue.
■ He has publicly said he likes Boston and wants to stay. Sometimes that works against a player because the team believes he won’t go anywhere else.
■ If the Sox feel they’re rebuilding — and it sure looks as if they are — why sign a veteran for more than one year?
■ The Sox may be out of the multiple-year/big-money era. Problem is, they have given such contracts to people they shouldn’t and not to the people they should.
■ They may feel his best offer will come from them. Not so sure about that this time.
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The Red Sox are finally taking some action to improve their evaluation of pitchers. They appear close to signing Eddie Bane, a former scouting director for the Angels who helped sign Mike Trout (though it probably didn’t take much scouting to realize he’s good). Bane has been with the Tigers and is considered an excellent evaluator of pitching — an area in which the Red Sox need a lot of help.
The team also may bring in another veteran to help Cherington make evaluations. The Red Sox interviewed Omar Minaya for such a job last season, but it went to Allard Baird. Minaya has been with San Diego but could be set free if the Sox pursue him.