Tuesday Afternoon Ruminating: T-Minus 34 Games

Today is Tuesday August 28, 2012 and the New York Yankees have 34 games left in the regular season.

With all but six of those games being against their American League East foes, it would seem the Yankees’ destiny is in their own hands and that same destiny can be altered by teams who would be more than thrilled to send them home.

One of those teams who would love to be a spoiler are the Toronto Blue Jays, the team the Yanks are currently playing.

Last night’s loss to the Jays was disappointing for multiple reasons: It looked like it was going to be a guaranteed victory until Colby Rasmus blasted a bad slider thrown by Rafael Soriano into the seats for a three-run dinger in the top of the ninth and the Yankees lost Mark Teixeira to injury.

Today, Phil Hughes will be facing off against Ricky Romero. Hughes, who had a bad outing the last time he faced Toronto – he gave up seven earned runs in only four innings – looks to rebound and help the Yankees stay above .500 against Toronto this season. Right now, the Yanks are ahead in the season series 5-4 with two more series after this one concludes – the last series between the two teams is a four-game set in Toronto at the end of September.

Next up is a weekend series against the still-surprising Baltimore Orioles who are currently sitting in second place in the American League East standings. The Yankees are 6-5 against them this season.

Actually, the only team the Yankees have done really well against in the American League East this season are the Boston Red Sox – they’re 8-4 against them with six head-to-head games left, including the last series of the season October 1-3.

After their “growing more and more important by the day” series against the O’s at the Stadium, the Yankees will head out of town for a 10-day road trip that includes stops in Tampa, Baltimore and Boston. To say this stretch of games is significant would be a huge understatement.

Making them even more important are the anticipated returns of Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte to the team. As of today, the reports were that Rodriguez was going to be taking live batting practice sometime today and that Pettitte was going to throw off a mound later this week.

Just having them back and playing would be a big boost to the team.

The keys for the Yankees for the rest of the season are keeping everyone healthy – or as healthy as they can be – and to win the games they’re supposed to win.

A team like the Red Sox would also be more than happy to play spoiler in the remaining month or so of baseball and the Orioles and Rays would love to return to the top of the Division standings.

So hang onto your hats, kids. This next month could be very interesting.

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money, co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast and is a monthly contributor to ESPN's SweetSpot Blog. She is a former contributor at Aerys Sports and High Heat Stats. She has contributed to group projects at Baseball: Past And Present and the Hall of Stats. Her work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly and most recently, she wrote four pieces for Derek Jeter: Celebrating the Yankees' Captain Clutch, a magazine printed by i5 Publishing.