NEW YORK — Given that Yankees manager Joe Girardi is a graduate of Northwestern with a degree in industrial engineering, the notion that he manipulated the first-round American League Division Series meeting with Minnesota doesn't seem all that far-fetched.
His critics claim he over-rested his veteran-laden team in September, thus finishing second to the Rays and losing home-field advantage through the postseason.
Of course, finishing second sent the Yankees against the Twins, who have proved so intimidated that they might as well stay home if there is a rematch next October. The last two series haven't been much of a challenge, including the just-completed sweep ended Saturday night.
Now, even Girardi isn't crafty enough to figure out exactly how his team and Tampa Bay would do on the regular season's last weekend, when they finished in a tie. But who would blame him if he could, given how his team has dominated the Twins.
"People are going to have their own opinions about what we were doing," a bristling Girardi said after the 6-1 finale. "I live in the clubhouse, and I know what we were trying to do. We were trying to get home-field advantage, and it didn't work out.
"I see the guys and I get the medical reports. I know the guys that are banged up. Those are the things I have to deal with. ... We had superstars, older superstars, that played 13 days in a row down the stretch. And if you didn't think we were trying to win, I think there was a misunderstanding."
Hey, you can't blame conspiracy theorists for at least wondering, as implausible as the thought would be. But that is over and now the Yankees get to enjoy two days of complete rest before reassembling Tuesday while waiting for Tampa and Texas to determine Friday's ALCS opponent.
The Yankees are 8-10 against the Rays, 4-4 against the Rangers.
"Our team always does well with rest," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.