The New York Yankees can nail down yet another American League East crown on Tuesday when they continue a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
New York moved a game ahead of Baltimore in the division on Monday and can secure its second straight and 12th AL East crown in the last 15 years with a victory on Tuesday coupled with an Orioles loss to Tampa Bay.
The Yankees exploded for nine runs in the second inning of Monday's opener against the hapless Red Sox and got eight strong innings from CC Sabathia in a 10-2 rout. Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and a returning Mark Teixeira all went deep during the second-inning outburst.
Baltimore lost to Tampa, as New York's magic number for clinching the division was trimmed to two.
"That's what you hope to have all the time when you're playing this game, that you have control of your own destiny," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Now we have to go out and win a ballgame tomorrow."
The four homers tied a Yankees' record for one inning, set initially at Toronto on June 30, 1977 and matched against Tampa Bay on June 21, 2005.
Cano finished 3-for-5 with three RBI and Granderson collected two hits and knocked in two runs, while Teixeira reached the seats in his second at-bat of his first game back from a strained left calf that had sidelined the slugging first baseman for 30 of the Yankees' last 31 contests.
Sabathia (15-6) did his part on the mound as well, limiting the Red Sox to two runs and four hits while striking out seven over a sharp eight-inning stint that cemented his sixth straight season of at least 15 wins.
The win also tied the Yankees with the AL West-leading Texas Rangers for the best record in the American League at 93-67.
Counterpart Clay Buchholz (11-8) wasn't nearly as effective for Boston, permitting eight runs and six hits -- including three of the homers -- before being removed with two outs in the second.
"It's tough whenever you leave pitches out of the middle of the plate and every one of them gets hit," said Buchholz. "That's what [New York] is known for. They hit mistakes."
Daniel Nava had a solo homer and Che-Hsuan Lin went 2-for-3 for the spiraling Red Sox, losers of six straight and 10 of their last 11 outings.
New York will pin its hopes tonight on rookie David Phelps rather than the struggling Ivan Nova, who has pitched to a 7.05 ERA in the second half.
Phelps hasn't started a game since Sept. 19 and is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 starts this year, including 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in two against Boston.
"It's a big deal," Phelps said. "I want to pitch in big games. They don't get a whole lot bigger than down the stretch in a pennant race. ... It just shows they have faith in me pitching a big game."
Overall, he is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA.
Boston will counter with lefty Jon Lester, who will try to end what has been a disastrous season on a high note. A double-digit winner in each of the last four seasons, including a career-high 19 in 2010, Lester has stumbled to a 9-14 mark this year with a 4.94 ERA. He's also lost his last three starts.
Lester is 1-1 in four starts against the Yankees this season and 9-4 lifetime against them with a 4.27 ERA in 21 starts.
New York is 11-5 against the Red Sox this season.