10/02/10 6:54 PM ET
To win division, Yanks need a win -- and help
By Sunil Joshi / MLB.com
It's been a tough season for Boston, which will finish in third place in the AL East, but the Red Sox can still influence their archrivals' path in the postseason when the clubs face off on Sunday. The Yankees are tied with the Rays for both the East and Wild Card lead, but because of tiebreakers, the Yankees need to win and watch the Rays lose in a game to the Royals that starts later in the day in order to win the division. The winner of the AL East will host the Rangers in the first round; the loser will travel to Minnesota to face the Twins.
The Red Sox will start John Lackey in the season finale, while the Yankees counter with Dustin Moseley. The clubs split the first two games of the series, which were both played during a Saturday doubleheader.
It's been an up-and-down season for Lackey, but he can end it on a high note. He enters the game with a 4.47 ERA, his highest single-season total since 2004, but he was better in September, when he posted a 3.73 ERA in five starts. He said he was disappointed after his last outing, though. He threw six innings, allowing three hits and two runs to the Rays.
"I threw six innings, pretty good baseball, but honestly as a starter, if I don't go seven-plus, I don't consider it a total success," said Lackey.
Moseley, who was Lackey's teammate with the Angels, gets a spot start for the Yankees in the finale of a season where he's become an important fill-in for the club. Moseley will be making his ninth start in 16 appearances, and he enters the game with a 4-3 record and a 4.77 ERA. His most recent appearance was a two-inning stint against the Blue Jays on Monday. Appearing in relief of A.J. Burnett, Moseley allowed one hit and one walk, compared with two strikeouts.
He'll be starting in place of Phil Hughes, as the Yanks try to limit Hughes' workload in his first season as a starter.
"It's going to be good," Moseley said after Saturday's game. "I'll try to get out there, give it my all tomorrow ... I'm going to take it for what it's worth, go out there, do what I can do and hopefully we come out on top."
Yankees: Hughes wins No. 18
The Yankees removed Hughes from the rotation in the final week to limit his innings, hence Moseley fills in on Sunday. But Hughes still found a way to earn win No. 18 on Saturday in the first game of the doubleheader.
Hughes appeared out of the bullpen, throwing a scoreless ninth inning in his second relief appearance of the year. He is preparing for a possible start in the AL Division Series.
"A lot of the guys were giving me grief about it, but these wins are valuable, especially in this league," Hughes said. "I'll take whatever ones I can get."
Hughes' 18 wins are a career high, as are his 29 starts.
Red Sox: Great ending for Mike Lowell
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell is retiring at the end of the season, and his manager made sure that Lowell's final start was productive.
Facing Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte on Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader, Lowell belted a double in his first at-bat, then singled off the Green Monster in the fifth. Manager Terry Francona decided to pinch-run for Lowell after the single, effectively ending Lowell's career.
"That's a special day for him, and [he] got to end on a hit and kind of walk away getting to tip his cap on his own terms," said Francona. "I thought that was really special. We kind of ... we were on the same page there."
Lowell began his career with the Yankees, singling off Blue Jays pitcher Kelvim Escobar in his first at-bat in his debut, on Sept. 13, 1998. The single was part of a 1-for-4 day. Lowell ended his career by going 2-for-2 with two RBIs.
"I told [Francona] if I hit a home run, I'm done," said Lowell. "So I was delighted with the first at-bat obviously. But it was pretty fitting for me to hit one [off the Monster]. I think that's a good end, off the wall, [and] with my wheels, staying at first. I probably just missed it. [No need to] push it -- it ended up being a nice day."
The Red Sox will give fans a $1 discount on pretzels, cotton candy and souvenir sodas on Sunday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.