NEW YORK – Dustin Pedroia lingered in the Red Sox dugout this afternoon for several extra minutes, his head poking out as he stared out at the Yankee Stadium infield. “That’s normal,” Pedroia explained. “I sit in the dugout after every loss.”
He watched an abnormal scene, one that unfolds only a handful of times at a handful of ballparks each season. Yankees streamed out of the dugout and in from the bullpen and gathered in the infield, celebrating the 4-2 victory over the Red Sox that clinched their first American League East title since 2006.
The Yankees high-fived and hugged while “New York, New York” blared above the din of 47,576 fans and one subway train rattling past beyond leftfield. They won their 100th game while leveling the season series against the Red Sox, once 8-0 in favor of Boston, at nine games a piece.
While the Yankees celebrated, the Red Sox shrugged. Players in every corner of the visiting clubhouse uniformly shared a three-point mantra: The Yankees won. Good for them. Wait for the playoffs.
“I think they have the best team in the American League East,” closer Jonathan Papelbon said. “Sure. Facts are facts. I think there’s a little sense of pride in trying to win the division every year. But realistically, the point is getting in and getting hot.”
“As of right now, obviously they’re the better team,” leftfielder Jason Bay said. ”Once the postseason starts, everything else is kind of thrown out the window.”
Didn’t it sting just a little watching the Yankees celebrate?
“I don’t care,” Kevin Youkilis said. “I want to get into the playoffs. Once we get there, it’s a whole other game.”
The Red Sox are not yet in the playoffs, but they could ensure their postseason place today. Their magic number dwindled to two with a week remaining because the Texas Rangers lost this afternoon to the Tampa Bay Rays.