There aren't very many lulls in the schedule when a team has the "pleasure" of playing in a division with three other teams that finished over .500 in 2013. Throw in a couple of inevitable West Coast trips and you have yourself a tough road back to the playoffs. Hopefully with the Yankees many expensive additions, they'll be able to withstand the rigors of their schedule just a bit better in 2014. Within those rigors, there are a couple of stretches where even a team as talented as the Yankees would be happy just to just break even in wins and losses. Let's look at what I think are the toughest stretches of games for the Yankees in 2014. Obviously most of these are away games, since going on the road really sucks.
April 17th- April 24th
4 @ Tampa Bay, 3 @ Boston
The dreaded Tampa Bay/Boston road trip starts nice and early this year. The Yankees have the pleasure of getting their first looks at the two best teams in the division last year, in their own stadiums. Hopefully the team will have worked out some of the kinks in their first two-plus weeks of baseball before playing these games that could really matter down the line.
June 6th- June 15th
4 @ Kansas City, 3 @ Seattle, 3 @ Oakland
Two intriguing teams and a playoff team in a central to west swing. All three teams are young and talented, and spending that many games far away from the east coast is always a rough stretch. Much of the difficulty of these games does depend on if Seattle and Kansas City prove to be the dark horse playoff contenders they have the potential to be, so we shall see. It will also be our second look at Robinson Cano: Not Yankee.
July 28th- August 3rd
3 @ Texas, 3 @ Red Sox
A road trip against two recent playoff teams with the added bonus of the stadiums not even being near each other. There is an off day in between, which should help ever so slightly. Perhaps Texas will be kind enough to fall off this year after their consecutive years of success. And of course going to play at the Red Sox is always last on the travel list. At least these days.
September 9th- September 17th
3 vs Tampa Bay, 3 @ Baltimore, 3 @ Tampa Bay
Six out of nine against the always infuriating Rays with three at the volatile Orioles throw in for good measure. While some might look to Baltimore to fall back to the pack in '14, they have more than enough talent to make trouble for the Yankees down the stretch. I would be shocked if these six games against the Rays weren't incredibly competitive and crucial to the fortunes of both teams.
Honorable mention goes to the Yankees having to close out the season at Fenway Park for three games, which is just all kinds of messed up.
I think it's in a fan's nature to divide up swathes of games like this. You envision runs the team could go on, or how hard it could be for them to stay afloat. Considering the streakiness of your average major league player, timing can be everything. Not playing your best against the Astros could get you a series win, but do it April 17th to April 24th and you could find yourself in quite the hole.
If you see any stretches more brutal than the ones I picked out, feel free to share. Let's dread the future together!