Yankees clinch spot in playoffs

Robinson Cano.

For most of the afternoon, the Yankees struggled against James Shields’ array of off-speed pitches and rarely came close to hitting those pitches when they were in the strike zone.
In the bottom of the eighth inning that changed, and because it did, the Yankees are headed to the playoffs.

“It’s the first step of three that you want to accomplish in the regular
season,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The first one is to get in, the
second one is to win your division and the third one is to have home
field advantage throughout. It’s the first step and you’ve got a shot
The unlikely hero proved to be Eduardo Nunez, whose game-tying home run was the spark to a 4-2 victory over the Rays.

“I’m so excited to hit a home run in this moment,” Nunez said. “I was waiting for a good pitch to hit the ball hard.”

“I have seen him doing great for us,” closer Mariano Rivera said. “That is his job and he is capable.”

If the home run flustered Shields it was not evident immediately as he struck out pinch hitter Eric Chavez. Then he allowed a single to Brett Gardner on the slider and threw four straight out of the strike zone to Derek Jeter.
As Shields sat in the dugout with a towel over his head, the Yankees untied it when J.P. Howell fell allowed a two-run double by Robinson Cano over center fielder B.J. Upton’s head.
That turned a terrific performance by Shields into a celebration for the Yankees, who now have a magic number of two to clinch the AL East. That can be achieved with a win tonight and a Boston loss to the Orioles.

“At least we know we’re in, that’s step one,” right fielder Nick Swisher said. “Step Two is let’s go get that division.”
After Mariano Rivera closed out his 603rd career save by retiring Evan Longoria, the celebration on the field was modest. Players shook hands and exchanged some hugs, knowing it was the first step the Yankees hope will conclude by the end of October.
As much as Nunez’s home run was the spark, it would be fair to say that the seven pitchers preceding Rivera would deserve some of the acclaim for the postseason clincher.

“We’re in the playoffs but we don’t know how,” Rivera said. “We want to win the division.”

“It’s important,” Jeter added. “But we’re playing to win a division.”
Hector Noesi was on a 50-60 pitch limit as he made a spot start for Phil Hughes (back spasms) and allowed just a two-run home run to Desmond Jennings in 2 2/3 innings while throwing 55 pitches.
None of the Yankee big name arms were used until Rivera but Raul Valdes, George Kontos, Aaron Laffey, Cory Wade and Boone Logan combined on 5 1/3 innings and allowed five hits while striking out seven.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.