The path to winning the division is obvious but steep. After this weekend's series, here's what's left of 2014:
3 Home vs Red Sox
3 Home vs Royals
3 Home vs Rays
4 Away at Orioles
3 Away at Rays
4 Away at Blue Jays
4 Home vs Orioles
3 Away at Red Sox
Three against the Royals, four against the Blue Jays, six against the Red Sox, six against the Rays, and eight against the Orioles.
That's 16 games against teams with nothing to play for except the chance to spoil Derek Jeter's final season, and 11 games against two teams fighting for a playoff berth. The Captain has it right: as he reminded the media after the missed opportunity in Detroit, "When you play the teams that are ahead of you, you don’t have to look at the scoreboard."
So what do the Orioles have ahead of them after they wrap up their weekend series with the Twins?
Three against the Reds, six against the Blue Jays, six against the Red Sox, three against the Rays, and eight against the Yankees.
The Yankees need to keep pace with the Orioles throughout September, and then dominate the Birds in the head to head matchup. They've gone 3-8 against the Fightin' Showalters so far this season. The Yankees need to go on a tear for the ages- maybe 20 or 21 for 27- but those were the teams of '49, of '78, of '95, and of '05.
Since Yangervis Solarte started the season with an April triple slash of .303/.404/.461, only Brett Gardner is the only regular to best that .865 OPS month (Gardner's insane July .932 OPS!). This a team that desperately needs one of the heavy hitters to get hot. This a team that's due for it.