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Yankees win it for the Boss

Curtis Granderson smacked two home runs as the Yankees defeated the Rays, 8-6, last night at Yankee Stadium.

With all the fanfare surrounding things such as Joe Torre and Brian Cashman burying the hatchet after nearly three years and the unveiling of a monument for George Steinbrenner, it seemed that the consequences of the on-field action were secondary.

It might have been the case but once the first pitch was thrown, the Yankees were all business.

Their business is winning and doing so frequently.

This year extra frequency is required because with 12 games remaining nothing is settled even after last night’s 8-6 win over the Rays.

Still, it was the type of victory the Boss would have enjoyed.

It featured two Curtis Granderson home runs, including a larger than life shot that deflected off the right field foul pole in a way that Reggie Jackson might have hit one.

“His No. 1 priority was for us to win,” Derek Jeter said. “We’re happy we were able to do that.”

“Grittiness, tough innings, tough at-bats and both teams playing hard,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think this is something he would have really liked.”

“The Boss” would have enjoyed seeing things such as Granderson’s seventh career multi-homer game and third as a Yankee. He also would enjoyed the fact that the blast occurred immediately after Tampa Bay scored four runs in the sixth and that Jeter continued his recent surge with a go-ahead single.

Regardless of how last night unfolded, the Yankees are heading to the postseason. Whether they begin in the Bronx or elsewhere is determined on things such as winning head-to-head meetings with the Rays.

For all of the summer, the difference in the standings has not been greater than four games and since August 1, the teams have been separated by no more than 2 ½ games, tied 11 times. It is similar to past races such as the 1993 AL East when the Yankees spent nearly 20 days tied with the Blue Jays.

The only difference is that the wild card is there as a nice fallback position. That hardly means a doomed postseason fate since the Marlins (1997, 2003); Angels (2002) and Red Sox (2004) have gone all the way.

"If we win the division, it's great," Granderson said. "If we're the wild card, that's great, too. The important thing is to get in. We want to take care of our business now so we'll be there at the end."

Granderson would know. He was a member of the 2006 Tigers, a team that blew the AL Central and beat the Yankees and Athletics as the wild card winner.

That year Granderson hit 19 home runs. At the beginning of August, he had 10 but now has 11 since then and an outside chance at hitting 25.

"I always self-evaluate at the end of the season," Granderson said. "The numbers are out there and people are going to talk about them, but I wait until the end of the season and talk about what I need to work on and let other people talk about the numbers."

Right now, the only relevant number is 1 ½ as in games ahead of the Rays. That number could swell to 4 ½ with a sweep but since six of the 15 games have been decided by two runs or less that appears unlikely.

“We fought back for a win and, yes, that's just the way (Steinbrenner) would like it," Girardi said.

First place is also how Steinbrenner would have liked it.

 
 
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