The reality is that the Yankees simply need to win to get in. Unlike season’s past, the wild card is not a good option. The Yankees have to win the division. And that means seriously beating up on these weak teams to finish off the season. It starts tonight in Minnesota. The ballpark up there is good for the Yankees’ pitchers but bad for the Yankees’ batters. It’s tough to hit a homer there. And tonight will bring the second start for Andy Pettitte. Pettitte can neutralize Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to a degree and also the lefty swinging Denard Span and Ryan Doumit. Pettitte will need to be extra careful with Josh Willingham, who has had a terrific offensive season.
The Twins will pitch Liam Hendriks tonight. Hendriks won his first game of his career in his last outing. It took him eighteen career starts to get there. His career ERA is just below six and he only strikes out five and a half batters per nine. You would like to think the Yankees should win tonight’s game.
Tomorrow, it will be Phil Hughes against Esmerling Vasquez. Vasquez has made four starts this season and averages five innings per start with a 1.700 WHIP. He has walked 6.8 batters per nine innings while striking out only 3.6. Hughes has only one career start in Target Field and it went really, really well. On paper, at least, this again looks like the Yankees should win the game.
The series with the Twins concludes on Wednesday with C.C. Sabathia fresh off his dominating appearance in his last start against Sam Deduno. Deduno has a winning record of, 6-5, and at least has an ERA under five. He is stingy in allowing hits but walks 5.9 batters per nine and strikes out only 6.4 batters per nine. He got rocked in his last start against the Tigers. You have to again like the Yankees’ chances in that game.
On Thursday, the Yankees will travel to Toronto to play the Blue Jays. They will face the Blue Jays’ best pitcher in Brandon Morrow, who traditionally struggles a bit in his home park. The Yankees have not yet listed their rotation for the Blue Jays series. But if it stayed true to form, Ivan Nova would be in line for this start. It will be interesting to see if Nova does get the start or if Girardi goes with another option. This Thursday match up against the Blue Jays looks like the first game this week that does not favor the Yankees.
As someone who predicts the outcome of baseball games every day on my home site, the only game I would hesitate in picking the Yankees to win would be Thursday. Otherwise, they really should win all of these games. But will they? We’ll just have to find out together. The Yankees find themselves in the driver’s seat with a very favorable remaining schedule. Now all they have to do is win the games.