The AL East race is going down to the final series, and the New York Yankees are getting a key player back.
Mark Teixeira is expected to see his first action since Sept. 8 on Monday as the Yankees open a three-game home set against the last-place Boston Red Sox.
New York (92-67) is tied with Baltimore for the division lead as both clubs enter their final series, but it found its way into the playoffs for the 17th time in 18 seasons Sunday as Texas beat Los Angeles to conclude Sunday's day-night doubleheader.
The Orioles, who also locked up a playoff spot with the Angels' loss, begin a three-game set at Tampa Bay on Monday.
Perhaps the best news for the Yankees came when manager Joe Girardi indicated that Teixeira is set to return from a left calf strain. The slugger has had no issues following an instructional league game this weekend.
"We expect to see him in New York on Monday," Girardi said. "He'll see the doctor tomorrow and see if he's cleared to play."
Teixeira is fourth on the team in homers (23) and RBIs (81). Girardi said he would like to play him at first base on Monday.
"It's the first time we'll have our whole lineup for a long time, which is really good," Girardi said. "It will make our lineup different. You think about (fewer) lefties being stacked together, too."
New York seemed on the verge of falling into second place before rallying from four runs down for a 9-6 victory at Toronto on Sunday. Robinson Cano continued his surge with three hits and Eric Chavez homered.
"Tonight was a season-defining game for us," New York's Nick Swisher said. "We could have gone down big like that and just packed it in, but that's not this team's M.O. That's not how we approach it."
The Yankees received no help over the weekend from the Red Sox (69-90), who were swept by the Orioles and have lost 90 games for the first time since 1966. Boston has dropped five straight, nine of 10, and is a major league-worst 7-23 since Aug. 28.
"We haven't had a good season,'' manager Bobby Valentine acknowledged.
New York still expects a more spirited effort from Boston in this set.
"They would like nothing better than to spoil our season," catcher Russell Martin said. "Us knowing that, I don't think anybody is going to take them lightly."
The Yankees' CC Sabathia (14-6, 3.42 ERA) will oppose the Red Sox's Clay Buchholz (11-7, 4.22) on the mound.
Sabathia has 21 strikeouts over his last two outings heading into his second this year against the Red Sox. He's 1-4 with a 6.81 ERA in six starts against Boston over the last two years.
Buchholz is 0-4 with a 4.31 ERA in his last seven outings. He gave up five homers over six innings in his lone 2012 start against the Yankees on April 20 to fall to 2-4 with a 5.84 ERA against them in eight starts, although he has won his last two in the Bronx.
Cano is 10 for 23 against the right-hander, and the second baseman is 15 for 24 with multihit efforts in each of his last six games.
The Yankees have won 10 of 15 from the Red Sox, but the arch-rivals have split six games in the Bronx. New York has won seven of its last eight at home.
"We get to go home now and play at our ballpark," Girardi said. "We had an outstanding homestand the last time, that's what we need to do again."