Rays at Royals, the power of 3
UPDATE, 6:22: Maddon said he was "really slightly baffled" that people are concerned about the team after its latest skid (3 straight losses, 5 of 6) given that they won 94 games. "I have a lot of faith in our guys, a lot of confidence in our guys,'' Maddon said. "We will be ready for Wednesday, but we still want to win this whole thing.''
UPDATE, 6:13: The issue may be moot if the Yankees hang on to win their first game in Boston today, but Rays manager Joe Maddon made it clear that if the Rays are in position to clinch the AL East tonight (meaning the Yankees lose the opener and the Rays win their game), they will stick around Kauffman Stadium with plans to celebrate. What, he was asked, would they do in that situation? "Blow the place up,'' he said. Then he added, "In all the most respectful ways you can blow a place up.''
UPDATE, 6:04: Manager Joe Maddon said he wanted to see B.J. Upton on the No. 2 spot tonight against righthander Kyle Davies with an eye toward using him there in the playoffs. Upton has been hitting second against lefthanders, and Maddon is willing to consider him for fulltime duty there, as he had in 2008. ... 2B Sean Rodriguez is playing ahead of lefty swinging Reid Brignac because of the matchup with Davies. ... Maddon said the order of pitchers for tonight isn't necessarily set, and it will depend on how deep Sonnanstine goes (though it will be less than five), and that Price will be used in a situation to pick off his 20th win. Jeremy Hellickson could get involved as well. ... Maddon addressed the team in a 20-minute meeting, reviewing what they accomplished this season (specifically their great start) and revisiting their goals going forward in the playoffs. "Pretty much recap and review,'' Maddon said.
UPDATE, 4:01: Rays lineup, with no Longoria (who is on the field working out):
UPDATE, 3:50: There's a summit meeting on the field right now, as Evan Longoria is going through his workout with manager Joe Maddon, bench coach Dave Martinez, infield coach Tom Foley and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield watching. Longoria is trying to convince them that his strained left quad is healed enough to return to the lineup.
Also, the Twins just scored a 5-4 walkoff win over the Blue Jays. Had the Twins lost, the AL East winner would have been assured the top seed in the AL playoffs.
DEVELOPING: The Rays are gathering here at Kauffman Stadium for what will be an interesting and potentially long night.
Both the Rays and Yankees enter play today with a chance to clinch the AL East, and thus also to be eliminated, as both have a magic number of three.
The quirk in the schedule is that the Yankees have two games today (and three total remaining) while the Rays have two left - one today and one on Sunday. And the big difference is that the Yankees control their own destiny and the Rays don't:
In simplest form, here are the scenarios:
For the Rays to win the East, they need to:
a) win their two games and have the Yankees lose one;
b) win one of their games and have the Yankees lose two;
c) lose both of their games and the Yankees lose all three.
For the Yankees to win the East, they need to:
a) win all three of their games;
b) win two and have the Rays lose one;
c) win one and have the Rays lose two.