For the first time in a little over two months (two months and five days, to be exact), the Yankees are within one game of the second Wild Card. It was on July 7 when they were just one half game back of Baltimore and Tampa Bay, who were tied at the time, for the second Wild Card. A lot has happened since then, and I mean a lot, both good and bad, but here we are. Through all the adversity, the Yankees are now just one game back of the final postseason spot. It's pretty incredible when you really think about it.
Now, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself here. Although they're close, the Yankees are still trailing for that final Wild Card, and, obviously, if the regular season were to end today, the Yankees would be cleaning out their lockers and heading home. Thankfully, the season does not end today. There is still a game to be played tonight in Camden Yards, the final game of this four-game set, as well as 15 after that. Following the Baltimore series, the Yankees will ship up to Boston for the final time in the regular season. That's the hard part. Following this rough 11-game stretch, in which they've gone 3-4 so far, the remaining schedule will really soften up.
After three with Boston, the Yankees will head up to Toronto for the final time in 2013 against the Off-Season Champion and regular season doormat Blue Jays. After that three-game set, the Yankees will head home for their final regular season home stand and face another team that has disappointed to a very large degree, the San Francisco Giants. Those two teams have combined for a 133-158 record and are both last in their respective divisions. Those should be easy wins. They should be able to take, at the very least, four out of six from that, if not more.
The schedule will get tougher after the series against Toronto and San Fran, at least momentarily. Well, sort of. Before finishing the final three games in Houston, the Yankees host the collapsing Tampa Bay Rays in the final home series of the year. Man, have the Rays played bad baseball of late. On August 24 they had just won the second game of a three game set against the Yankees at the Trop. They were tied with Boston for first in the American League East and were five games ahead of Cleveland for the second Wild Card. 18 days and 17 games later, they now are clinging to a one-game lead for the second Wild Card, and their chances at an AL East division crown (9.5 back of Boston) have all but vanished. Despite how Tampa has played, this may end up being a monumental series for both clubs.
Looking at the remaining schedule, it appears the Yankees will have a fairly decent shot at this if they survive the remaining four games this week. To go along with playing weak opponents after this 11-game stretch, the Rays and the Rangers, who currently hold the first Wild Card and have begun to collapse themselves (losers of nine out of their last 12), will face each other for a four game set at the Trop. This is when the Yankees play in Toronto. When the Yankees host the Giants, the Rays will finish up their home stand with four against the Orioles. If the Yankees take care of business this weekend, as well as take care of business against the weak teams they play next week, they will gain some serious ground/pull away from their nearest competitors. The stars are aligning perfectly... at least on paper.
Now, of course this is all mapped out as well as we could have hoped, but the games are played on the field. The Yankees still have to finish the deal. But, given all the adversity they have had to through, including all the injuries on offense that have lead to lineups like this, and some serious underperformers on the pitching staff, the Yankees are very, very fortunate to even be this close this late into the season, and that's pretty awesome.
Anyway, before I send you on your way, I'll leave you with a poll. It's pretty simple: When it's all said and done, will the Yankees be playing baseball in October?