Contrary to popular belief, the New York Yankees are not dead yet. Thanks to a victory over the White Sox yesterday afternoon and Tampa's fifth straight loss last night, the Yankees are now only 2.5 games back from the Wild Card. Obviously, it's not a guarantee that they will even make the playoffs but it looks like the last few weeks of the season have a chance to be exciting, maddening and stressful, and every game will more than likely feel like an elimination game.
We may be getting playoff baseball before the playoffs actually start.
The Yankees' upcoming schedule is no walk in the park. After two more games with the White Sox, they have a big series with Boston this weekend at home and then go on to play Baltimore in a four-game series. Those two series may be what determines whether the Yankees will be home in October or playing for championship #28. They then travel north on the I-95 corridor to face the Sox again the following weekend in Fenway. After that they're going over the border one last time to play the Blue Jays.
When they're done in Toronto, the Yankees are at home for the last time in 2013. Those games against the San Francisco Giants and Rays will be emotional because if the Yankees are out of it by then, that last homestand will be a long, drawn out farewell to Mariano Rivera.
Basically, the Yankees control their own destiny in September.
They're facing all three teams currently ahead of them in the American League East standings, they're facing the team in the AL East basement and they're ending the season playing one of the worst teams in the entire league - Houston.
They need to keep winning series but they also need some of the facets of the team that have been faltering the past few weeks to correct themselves.
A big step in that direction would be a good start by Hiroki Kuroda tonight against Chris Sale. Kuroda has a rough go of it lately. In his last three starts, he's surrendered a combined 29 hits, 17 runs and four home runs. All four of those long balls occurred in one game against Tampa on August 23 and Kuroda, before that start, hadn't surrendered a home run in over eight starts.
Like I mentioned, the Yankees are facing Chris Sale tonight and in their last game against him in Chicago, only managed to score one run on five hits in 7.1 innings. The White Sox ended up winning that game 3-2 and Kuroda lost his seventh game of the year.
I said it last week when they were playing in Toronto but this a series the Yankees must win in order to see October baseball.