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Stretch of Tough Games Could Be Telling For Yankees

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Will Cano step up during this stretch of difficult games?
Will Cano step up during this stretch of difficult games?

The Yankees got off to a not so stellar start to one of the toughest stretches of their schedule last night. Giving up leads on this stretch of games cannot happen. Outside of the obvious, why is it important the Yankees hold onto their leads during this stretch?

Over their next 18 games, the Yanks will play the Mariners twice, the A's three times, the Angels three times, the Red Sox three times, the Indians four times, and the Rangers three times. Of these teams, only the A's have a losing record, but that in no way reflects how difficult it will be to break through against their outstanding pitching staff. 

All of these teams can pitch, and the Yankees will be getting the best each team has to offer on this road trip. Easily seen, this stretch of games could tell us what kind of team the Yankees really are.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN also took a look at this in his article, "Six Burning Questions Facing Yankees." 

The Bombers are just 17-13 at home. That's a .567 winning percentage, which, if the pace continues, would be their worst mark since 2000. That year, the Yankees went 44-36 (.550) at home and won just 87 games overall, though they did win the World Series.

The Yankees play their next [eight] games out west against Seattle, Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels. The veteran Yankees have the second-best road record (10-9) in the American League.

When the Yankees return home they face the Red Sox, the red-hot Indians and the AL champion Rangers. So this is an intriguing stretch.

Winning the series against the Mariners became a lot tougher after last night's loss, given Felix Hernandez will take the ball tonight. In their next series, the Yankees are currently slated to face Oakland's top three pitchers: Trevor CahillBrett Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez.

After completing a three game set in the North Bay, the Yankees will travel to Southern California to face the Angels' top three pitchers: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana

This will be a very tough road trip, and a 10 game homestand following this stretch of games will not make life easier for the Yankees. The Red Sox are always difficult to beat, the Indians have the best record in the American League, and the Rangers are the reigning AL Champs.

How the Yankees play during this stretch of games could give us an idea of what kind of team they are right now. If they come out with a winning record over these next 18 games, I'll be happy. If not, well, there will still be a lot of season left.

What are your expectations for the rest of the road trip? Expectations for the homestand? Overall, expectations for the next 18 games?