It took 12 innings on Tuesday night, but New York's 4-3 win over Boston kept its one-game division lead over the Orioles -- who beat the Rays, 1-0 -- intact. The magic number is down to one -- either an Orioles loss or Yankees win will give the Bombers a division title.
Both New York and Baltimore are postseason bound, but the final day of the regular season will likely determine which club will head to the playoffs as a Wild Card. Should the Orioles win and the Yankees lose on Wednesday, a one-game tiebreaker will be played in Baltimore on Thursday to determine the division winner.
Hiroki Kuroda will start for the Yankees on Wednesday, and the veteran said he won't be feeling any pressure despite the circumstances. Kuroda has pitched in three playoff games in his career, all with the Dodgers.
"I think it's important, because it's a guy that's pitched in big games in his career before," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You don't want him to get caught up in, 'This could mean this, or this could mean that.' Just go out and execute pitches. I love having a veteran out there."
"Rather than thinking about the playoff game, I'd rather concentrate 100 percent on tomorrow's start," Kuroda said. "So that's what I'm going to do."
Kuroda 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 Major League career. He is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox this season.
Opposite Kuroda will be Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts. Matsuzaka is 1-6 with a 7.68 ERA in 10 starts this season, but he has yet to pitch against the Yankees in 2012.
Yankees: Girardi defends CC's eight-inning start
Girardi said postseason implications were on his mind when he let CC Sabathia pitch eight innings against the Red Sox on Monday, but the skipper said he is confident that, if need be, Sabathia will be ready to go on short rest.
Should the Yankees fail to clinch the AL East title on Wednesday and lose the resulting tiebreaker against the Orioles on Thursday, New York would play the AL Wild Card game against Oakland on Friday, which would give Sabathia just three days' rest.
"It's not like I asked him to throw 120 pitches. He threw  pitches," Girardi said. "CC, when he's on a roll, he gets on a roll and it seems sometimes the more work he gets, the better he gets. You're asking me to think about, 'What if we tie? What if we have to play another game?' It doesn't make sense. I have to worry about today."
Sabathia is plenty familiar to pitching on short rest, and he repeatedly said after his start on Monday that he is ready to do so again. Sabathia has made seven career starts on three days' rest between the regular season and playoffs, combining to go 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA.
Red Sox: Pedroia plays through injury
Dustin Pedroia wanted to make an impact on the young players in Boston's clubhouse. Despite how the team has struggled, this is the Major Leagues, and you grind it out regardless of the situation.
He made an example of himself on Tuesday, when he was back in the lineup against the Yankees despite an avulsion fracture in his left ring finger. The second baseman would have played on Monday, but his finger was too swollen and he was unable to swing.
"We've got a lot of young guys on our team," Pedroia said. "Sometimes you get nicked up, stuff like that. It's part of the job. You get beat up. You slide into bases. You get your finger stepped on or hit a base or whatever. But they know I'm going to be out there, and they should be out there, too, if it happens to them. It's a team."
Pedroia finished 2-for-5 with an RBI double, a walk and a run scored.
Should the Yankees clinch the AL East on Wednesday, it will be the Bombers' second consecutive division title and third in the last four seasons.
Prior to this year, Boston had not reached the 90-loss mark since 1966, which was the longest active stretch in the Majors without a 90-loss season.