The Yankees begin a 10-game homestand tonight against the Baltimore Orioles, and they have 29 games remaining on the regular season. Seems simple enough, right? Here are the current standings in the American League East:
AL East Standings
Ouch. It's not, to use one of Michael Kay's favorite words, an insurmountable deficit, but it would take quite a special run to make up seven games in the loss column as well as jump over three teams to win the AL East. So with that in mind, this is the only other avenue to October baseball:
American League Wild Card Standings
Ah, that's better! Well actually, no... it's not. It's still kind of depressing. As we know, MLB Commissioner and revered saint Bud Selig decided that it would be fun to add a second wild card team and have them play in a one-game playoff at the end of the season to get into the Division Series. This was to "create more excitement" in pennant races, which in Selig language translates to "I want more money in my pocket".
However, the second wild card at this point is almost certainly the Yankees' best chance, and it provides the only realistic chance of possibly making a playoff push this September. Oakland finally lost a game to Detroit, and Tampa Bay lost a couple games to the Angels this past week. Now, Oakland and Tampa get to play each other this weekend and beat each other up, so it's a good opportunity for the Yankees to gain some ground. If you want to know which team you should root for... I really don't know. Probably the A's because the Yankees don't get to play them again, and because they have about as easy a September schedule as you can get. But whichever team wins the first game I'll probably root for to sweep.
It is not going to be easy. The Yankees will have to play their best baseball of the season over their final 29 games. They have to pass three teams in front of them in the Wild Card while at the same time holding off the surging Royals. And then, if they're still alive, they have to win a one game do-or-die playoff game and then have to go into the ALDS on the road against whichever team has the best record in the American League.
I'm getting ahead of myself here. Lets look at the Yankees schedule over the final 29 games.
- 3 games vs. BAL
- 3 games vs. CWS
- 4 games vs. BOS
- 4 games @ BAL
- 3 games @ BOS
- 3 games @ TOR
- 3 games vs. SF
- 3 games vs. TB
- 3 games @ HOU
So yes, the 2013 New York Yankees, with all their injuries and distractions and whatever you want to call it, are still in the pennant race. They are still in postseason contention. But they also have their backs completely against the wall and cannot afford even the smallest slip up. The Yankees are the healthiest they have been this entire season, and recently (before this last road trip) have shown they are capable of playing at the level needed to make this kind of a run. Now they need to make that run again, and it needs to last the rest of the season. It needs to start with CC Sabathia against the Orioles tonight.
Is it easy? No. But it's doable and they have a shot at it. And with the 2013 Yankees, the fact that we can say that going into September is a positive in itself.