Look, the Yanks have clinched. The O’s have given up. There’s no point to breaking down a terrible team that I’ve already analyzed five times this season, and that the Yankees just played last week. The O’s roster hasn’t changed since last week. There’s nothing to see here.
That said, the division is still in play. If the Yanks sweep and the Red Sox, who lost to the Twins last night, only win one of their remaining three against Minnesota, the Yanks will win the East via the tiebreaker of having won the season series against Boston. That said, neither team is going to fight for it. The Yanks are going to rest their regulars (though Melky’s the only regular who will rest tonight), continue the bullpen tryouts, limit Andy Pettitte to 60 pitches tomorrow, and go with a spot-starter in the season finale on Sunday.
Tonight they’ll let Mike Mussina throw his usual 100-or-so pitches. In three starts since returning to the rotation, Moose has gone 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA and has not allowed a home run. Two starts ago he faced the O’s in the Bronx and turned in his best start of the year. Sure, he’s faced Baltimore once and the depleted Toronto lineup twice, but the prospect of Mussina as the fourth playoff starter (or even the third if Clemens can’t answer the bell) is not as scary as it was just a few weeks ago.
The O’s send Jon Leicester, who has alternated good and bad starts since joining the rotation at the beginning of the month. The Yanks caught him two starts ago and rocked him for six runs in four innings. Tonight would be bad-start night for Leicester if he continues the pattern.