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Boston at New York

Venue: Yankee Stadium
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The regular season isn't over, but the October drama at Yankee Stadium has already begun.

With another victory Wednesday night, the New York Yankees will enter the playoffs as AL East champions.

The Yankees can clinch their 12th division title in 15 years if they complete a three-game sweep of the Red Sox in the potential finale of the embattled Boston tenures for both manager Bobby Valentine and right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Hiroki Kuroda takes the ball opposite his Japanese countryman with New York (94-67) one game ahead of Baltimore through 161 contests. If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win at Tampa Bay, the teams would meet in a one-game playoff Thursday in Baltimore, with the loser of that game forced to put its season on the line Friday in a wild-card playoff.

New York would much prefer to go straight through to a division series with the AL's best record, which it would also secure with a victory.

"If you win, you win the division. That's the bottom line," manager Joe Girardi said. "And we have the chance to have the best record, and that's the bottom line and that's a good feeling that you can control that."

Raul Ibanez put the Yankees in position for those feats with a pair of timely hits Tuesday. He delivered a pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the game, then gave New York a 4-3 win with an RBI single in the 12th.

"We stuck together. We stayed after them, and we were able to pull it out," Ibanez said. "It's crunch time for us, and we all know that."

The Yankees have won nine of 10 at home, and they've taken four straight against Boston to improve to 12-5 in the season series.

There may not be a more fitting way for the Red Sox to finish their disastrous campaign than by watching their archrivals celebrate a division title.

Boston (69-92) is already assured of a last-place finish and its worst record since 1965, with many expecting the struggles to cost Valentine his job after only one season.

"We didn't start the season to finish fifth ... or fourth, or third, or second ...," said Valentine, who has one year left on his contract.

Matsuzaka's six-year, $52 million deal - signed after the Red Sox paid a $51.1 million posting fee to bring him over from Japan - is due to expire, and he almost certainly won't be back.

His first two years in Boston were promising, but the last four have been marred by injuries and woeful results. He's 17-21 with a 5.42 ERA in 55 games since the start of 2009.

Matsuzaka (1-6, 7.68 ERA) seems an especially inviting adversary for the Yankees after going 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in four September starts, with opponents batting .400. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 19 and hasn't faced the Yankees since 2010.

"It's been really hard to keep the positive going, so far," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "As always I'm disappointed in myself for not helping my team out."

Kuroda (15-11, 3.34) turned out to be a much better acquisition for the Yankees, although he has not been at his best lately. Since his ERA dipped to 2.96 in August, the right-hander is 3-3 with a 4.73 ERA in seven starts.

He won Friday at Toronto but allowed 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings. He's surrendered only 11 hits and three runs over 16 innings in two home starts against Boston this year.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP
2012 stats
45.2 Innings Pitched 219.2
1-7 Wins-Losses 16-11
8.28 Earned Run Average 3.32
20 Walks 51
41 Strikeouts 167
73 Pitches Per Start 98
Career vs. opponent
- Innings Pitched -
--- Wins-Losses ---
- Earned Run Average -

Hiroki Kuroda, RHP
Weather
weather image  a few tstorms. Overcast. Mild.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
74°F65°F5mph/SE85%80%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Boston1st AL East2817.622-6-4 W 3
NY Yankees3rd AL East2222.5005 ½ 8-2 W 6
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Hiroki Kuroda
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Pedroia125100.417
Nava52001.400
Ellsbury114002.364
Gomez31001.333
Kalish62001.333
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Daisuke Matsuzaka
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Chavez32101.667
Cervelli42011.500
Teixeira125034.417
Granderson166111.375
Jeter197234.368
 

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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Boston 250 N.Y. Yankees -300
Injuries
Boston
PlayerInjury
B. BoeschWrist
M. ChavisThumb
J. DahlstrandElbow
B. HoltConcussion
B. JohnsonPersonal
M. KopechHand
J. MastersonShoulder
H. RamirezToe
E. RodriguezKnee
P. SandovalShoulder
T. ShawHand
C. SmithForearm
B. WorkmanElbow
NY Yankees
PlayerInjury
G. BirdShoulder
D. GermanElbow
K. HaynesBack
S. HeathcottUndisclosed
T. HensleyElbow
J. KaprielianElbow
B. MitchellToe
B. PinderElbow
A. RodriguezHamstring
N. RumbelowElbow
G. SanchezThumb
L. SeverinoTriceps
L. TorrensShoulder
M. WilliamsShoulder
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 12TORNYY 3-2Barbato Cecil 
Apr 13TORTOR 7-2Happ Pineda 
Apr 14TORTOR 4-2Stroman Eovaldi 
May 24NYYNYY 6-0Eovaldi Dickey 
May 25NYY 7:05 PM EDT  
May 26NYY 4:05 PM EDT  
May 30TOR 7:07 PM EDT  
May 31TOR 7:07 PM EDT  
Jun 1TOR 7:07 PM EDT  
Aug 15NYY 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 16NYY 7:05 PM EDT  
Aug 17NYY 1:05 PM EDT  
Sep 5NYY 1:05 PM EDT  
Sep 6NYY 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 7NYY 7:05 PM EDT  
Sep 23TOR 7:07 PM EDT  
Sep 24TOR 1:07 PM EDT  
Sep 25TOR 1:07 PM EDT  
Sep 26TOR 7:07 PM EDT