American League MVP Watch

American League MVP Watch

BOSTON -- With two games left in the regular season, the race for the American League East is dead even. And there's not much room, if any, in the battle for the AL MVP Award between New York's Alex Rodriguez and Boston's David Ortiz. The Red Sox slugger had a better Friday night than the Yankees third baseman, as Ortiz drove in Boston's first run with a first-inning single in a 5-3 win. Meanwhile, Rodriguez -- who scored New York's first run -- committed an error and went hitless in three at-bats.

What he did: Went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Made just his second error in his last 89 games when he allowed Johnny Damon's grounder to go between his legs in the third.
What it meant: His most important contribution came in the first inning, when he worked the first of two consecutive walks against David Wells, stole third base and scored on Hideki Matsui's single to left-center.
Key season stats: 47 HRs, 129 RBIs, .318 AVG
What he's saying: "We knew coming in here it was going to be a war and nothing was going to be easy. We know what those guys are about and what we're about."
What others are saying: "I told you guys [media], 'If you watch these guys line up, it's sick.' If you've got a guy that can hold them down like [Wells] did tonight, you're going to see the results later on." -- Ortiz

What he did: Went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks.
What it meant: Following his first-inning RBI single, Ortiz grounded into a third-inning double play before being walked in his final two at-bats, as the Yankees would not allow the slugger to see good pitches in late-game situations.
Key season stats: 47 HRs, 147 RBIs, .299 AVG
What he's saying: "[Saturday is a] new season. You've got to come out and play the same way. You never know between these two teams, these two teams have a lot of history. But history's been changing lately. It's not what happened in the past, it's what's happening right now."
What others are saying: "When David's up, you just can't take that risk. He's the game's best hitter right now. We want him to have the chance to score you, and if there's a base hit, there's a good chance I'm going to score." -- Johnny Damon, on the Yankees pitching around Ortiz after his first-inning clutch hit

Ortiz responded to his chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP" prior to his first at-bat, delivering yet another clutch hit, this time a clean ground ball single to center, scoring Damon and tying the game, 1-1, in the first.

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.