Make no mistake: A.J. Burnett is starting Game 4 no matter what

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A lot of nervous Yankees fans have been assuming — or hoping, maybe — that if the Yankees find themselves down 2-1 to the Rangers after tonight that Joe Girardi would pitch CC Sabathia on short rest for Game 4. Not so, says Joe:

Joe Girardi made it clear yesterday that A.J. Burnett would get the ball tomorrow night, regardless of what happens in tonight’s ALCS Game 3. And while the erratic righty has done nothing to instill confidence during his miserable second half, both Girardi and GM Brian Cashman said they think he will come through.

“I believe in A.J.,” Cashman said during the team’s workout yesterday at Yankee Stadium.

The issue, Dan Martin of the Post reports, is Phil Hughes who, if Burnett is to be avoided in this series, would have to go on short rest too and that’s just not in the cards.

And it’s probably smart to go with Burnett anyway, because even if CC Sabathia has done well on short rest in the past, on the whole, using starters like that generally leads to worse production from said starters. Maybe Sabathia was just born to be a 1970s starter and could keep it up forever, but it’s hard to ask the Yankees to bet on that, isn’t it? Even if betting on Burnett feels less safe at the moment?

We know this much at least: Cliff Lee stands a chance to earn more money while he’s sitting on the bench for Game 4 than he does on the mound in Game 3. Because if Burnett crashes and burns the Yankees are going to feel that much more pressure to go out and get another pitcher for next season.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.