ST. LOUIS (USA TODAY) -- The American LeagueEast remains undecided entering the final day of the regular season, butRaul Ibanez's heroics Tuesday brought the New York Yankees to the brinkof the division title.
The Yankees, who had been winless in 58games this season when trailing in the ninth inning, were saved whenIbanez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning to tie the score and arun-scoring single in the 12th to win it 4-3 against the Boston Red Sox,preserving New York's one-game lead on the Baltimore Orioles.
Earlier Tuesday, the Orioles shut out the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0, with Chris Davis hitting a homer for the sixth consecutive game.
Ifthe Yankees beat the Red Sox again today or the Orioles lose at TampaBay, the Yankees will win the AL East, forcing the Orioles to play theone-game wild-card playoff against the Oakland Athletics or TexasRangers on Friday for a spot in the division series.
If the Orioles win and the Yankees lose today, they will meet in a one-game playoff for the AL East title Thursday in Baltimore.
"It'simportant that winning the division matters," Yankees general managerBrian Cashman said. "The addition of the wild card (in 1995) wastremendous, but it evolved that the division championship becameirrelevant. It's good the way it is. But I'm hoping not to be the wildcard."
The AL West will be decided today when the Rangers and Athletics, who are both tied for first, play at 3:35 p.m. ET.
Therace is over in the National League, with the St. Louis Cardinalsgetting the final wild-card spot, thanks to a Los Angeles Dodgers lossto the San Francisco Giants.
Yet even the NL Central championCincinnati Reds, battling the Washington Nationals for home-fieldadvantage, have no idea who or where they'll be playing in the firstround.
"It's really unsettling," said Reds manager Dusty Baker,whose team beat the Cardinals 3-1 on Tuesday, keeping St. Louis'wild-card magic number at one with the Dodgers playing late against thevisiting San Francisco Giants. "We're a team without a destination."
TheDetroit Tigers, winners of the AL Central, and the Giants, winners ofthe NL West, know they will open the playoffs at home Saturday. Theyjust have no idea who they're playing.