The Juice: Yankees clinch East, Red Sox set to fire Bobby Valentine

David Brown
Big League Stew

The Juice has concluded its fifth season of fun! Remember to stop by each weekday next season for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

[Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy New York Yankees division champs merchandise]

Easier this way: Even if the Orioles hadn't fallen at Tampa Bay earlier, the Yankees would have won the AL East by smashing the Red Sox 14-2 on Wednesday night, clinching their 14th division title in 18 seasons and their 47th first-place finish in history, all since 1921. Robinson Cano went 4 for 4 with two home runs and six RBIs, and Curtis Granderson also went deep twice to back Hiroki Kuroda. Now, instead of having to play in a wild-card free-for-all on Friday, the Yankees can sit back and wait for either Texas or Baltimore in the ALDS.

[Jeff Passan: Bobby Valentine has fitting, frustrating swan song]

Bobby 'V' is for vamoose: The Red Sox finished with a 69-93 record and, if you've paid attention to Bobby Valentine all season, it was even more embarrassing than that. Rather than giving it another shot next season, the team intends to fire him any moment now, reporter Jon Heyman writes at CBS Eye on Baseball. With apologies to Boston fans, that's too bad, because it was kind of fun waiting for what Bobby V would do next. And what he does next probably will come on TV, because Bob Nightengale of USA Today says ESPN will bring back Valentine as an analyst as soon as he's free from the Red Sox. Nutzo.

Three times a-Longo: Evan Longoria likes to save his best for last, so he lighted up the Orioles for three home runs in Tampa Bay's 4-1 victory against the Orioles, sealing Baltimore into the wild-card game after a ridiculously fun and surprising 93-69 record. A year ago, Longoria hit two home runs on the final day of the season to help send the Rays to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Orioles were Robert Andino-ing the Red Sox to knock them out of the playoffs. See how everything is connected?!

How's the rest of the postseason shake out?: Kaduk tells you!

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Quote of the Day I:

"This was difficult. Come into the last day of the season, nobody knows what's going on. We've been taking it one day at a time for quite some time. It feels good."
— Derek Jeter, on the Yankees sorting out their playoff possibilities by beating the Red Sox.

Quote of the Day II:

"When I went up in the ninth, A.J. (Pierzynski) told me that Longo hit three tonight. I was not going to let him show me up." — Dan Johnson of the White Sox, a former teammate of Longoria's with Tampa Bay, after he hit three home runs, too.

Quote of the Day III:

"It stinks just as much as the last time we were at .500." — Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson, whose team finished 81-81.

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[More: Raul Ibanez's heroics for Yankees may keep him from birth of his child]

Photo of the Day: Hey, it's Brandon McCarthy!

And he's pouring beer on a teammate's head during the A's victory celebration. Good to see B-Mac back with the gang as he continues to recover from the beaning.

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Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• Chase Headley of the Padres finished a breakout season as the NL's RBI champion, holding off Ryan Braun of the Brewers. Headley went 2 for 3 and drove in two runs in a 7-6 win against Milwaukee to finish with 115 knocked in. San Diego, meanwhile, kept Braun off the board for the entire series and he finished with 112. Headley, playing home games at Petco Park, one of the toughest parks in the league for hitting, also finished with 31 homers and 31 doubles.

• Braves closer Craig Kimbrel struck out 116 of the 231 batters he faced, a 50.2 percent rate that "by far" is the best in history, notes Talking Chop.

• Expected by many to contend, the Marlins instead  finished 69-93. They drew 2.2 million fans in their first season at a new ballpark, good for 12th in the NL but their highest total since 1997.

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