The Yankees find themselves on quite a roll these days. They have won six of their last seven with four of those victories coming at the expense of American League East rivals the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. Wins are wins, obviously, and you can't choose who you beat. It's just sheer good luck that the Yankees stretch of quality baseball has come at the perfect time. They have three more games against the Rays in Tampa followed by three in Fenway Park against the Red Sox. It's a chance to put some space between themselves and their biggest rivals in the division, which could prove advantageous as the season moves along.
The value of momentum in baseball has always been near impossible to quantify. It almost certainly has a positive effect on the mindset on the fans and the players who are winning, but how that translates to success from one game to the next is an unknown. After all, even a 10-2 drubbing against David Price would all but be wiped away if Hiroki Kuroda came out today and gave up five home runs. One terrible performance can erase the positives gleaned from ten games before it.
All that being said, the Yankees are stringing together great performances at just the right time. The Yankees had two similarly excellent stretches in April of 2013, winning six of seven games on one occasion and seven of eight games on another. Amazingly all just in that one month, which seems absurd, considering what a mess 2013 turned out to be. Those stretches, however, were all against non-divisional opponents. There's obviously more value to a win versus a team you might need to best in a divisional tiebreaker against than the Minnesota Twins.
There is one other thing that could potentially come from putting together a good run in these next six games: panic. The Red Sox and Rays are two teams that have front offices that believe in the process. They will not easily be scared if the Yankees run roughshod over them in the next six games. But the Rays have already lost Matt Moore, are concerned about the contract status of David Price and have a small payroll. Putting them in a hole in the division over the next three games could make their decisions that much more difficult as the season goes on. As for the Red Sox, the media and fans will run around as if on fire if the Yankees can put a good thumping on them in the upcoming series. And that sort of distraction is never completely useless.
It's still incredibly early in the season. The Yankees can't win the division or crush the wills of their rivals now. But they can go a long way in helping their fortunes, especially since they won't see either of these teams for another two months. The Yankees seem to be firing on all cylinders, so here's hoping that lasts at least for another six games. Who knows just how much they might matter in the long run.