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Yankees try to clinch AL East title, Orioles one game back

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The Sports Network
10/3/2012 11:06:43 AM
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(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees still control their own destiny thanks to Raul Ibanez's heroics on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they try to nail down their 12th American League East crown in the last 15 years by sweeping the Boston Red Sox in the finale of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium.

Ibanez smacked a pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning and later drove in the deciding run with a single in the 12th as the Yankees rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox and reduced their magic number for clinching the division to one.

New York, which entered the night 0-58 when down heading into the ninth inning, won for the third time in a row and maintained a one-game edge on Baltimore for first place heading into Wednesday.

Either a Yankees' win in the finale or an Orioles' loss to Tampa Bay would give the Bronx Bombers the division crown. If New York loses on Wednesday and the Orioles win, however, the two playoff-bound teams would face one another in Baltimore on Thursday to decide the AL East.

A Yankees win would also give them the top seed in the AL heading into the postseason.

Heading to the hill for New York will be righty Hiroki Kuroda, who will set a new career high on Wednesday with his 33rd start of the year, and his 212 2/3 innings are already the most of his big league career.

Kuroda, who has made three playoff starts in his career, has won three of his last four decisions and is 15-11 with a 3.34 ERA on the year.

Boston, meanwhile, will turn to a Japanese hurler of its own in Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will likely be making his final start as a member of the Red Sox.

Matsuzaka never lived up to the billing for the Red Sox and this year he's been awful, going a miserable 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA. He's 17-21 with a 5.42 ERA in 55 games since the start of 2009.

New York is 12-5 against the Red Sox this season.

Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays

(Sports Network) - The Baltimore Orioles still have a shot at an American League East crown. But, for that to happen they will need to close their regular season with a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Baltimore kept its hopes alive on Tuesday, as Chris Davis homered in his franchise record-tying sixth straight game and the Orioles blanked Tampa Bay, 1-0.

Getting the call for the Orioles on Wednesday will be righty Chris Tillman, who is 9-2 with a 2.78 ERA. Tillman won his fourth straight decision on Friday against Boston, as he held the Red Sox to an unearned run and one hit in eight innings.

He beat the Rays the last time he faced them, but is 1-2 with a 4.68 ERA in six starts against them.

Tampa, meanwhile, will rely on righty Jeremy Hellickson, who has followed up his AL Rookie of the Year campaign by going 9-11 with a 3.20 ERA. Hellickson lost to the Chicago White Sox on Friday, as he surrendered three runs (2 earned) and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.

In 11 games (10 starts) against the Orioles, Hellickson is 5-3 with a 2.49 ERA.

Baltimore is 10-7 versus the Rays this season.

Hiroki Kuroda (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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