So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance

All it took was a sweep of the first place Boston Red Sox, but it seems as if the hope is back in Yankeeland.  Seattle has hit a rough patch (3-7 in their last 10) and it has opened a window for the Yankees to take the Wild Card lead.  In fifteen days these two clubs meet again for a 3 game series in Boston.  Is it possible for the Yankees to get close enough over the next two weeks to turn the battle for the AL East into a legitimate race?  Before the September 14th – 16th match-ups the Yankees will play twelve games, six at home, six on the road.  The Red Sox will play thirteen games, nine at home, four on the road.  The Yankees are 31-35 on the road and 44-24 at home.  While the Red Sox are 40-31 on the road and 40-23 at home. 

Here is how the games break out:

Yankees (75-59)

Vs. Tampa Bay  54-80, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

Vs. Seattle 73-59, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

@ Kansas City 59-73, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

@ Toronto 67-66, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

Red Sox (80-54)

Vs. Baltimore 58-74, 6-14 last 20 (3 Game Series)

Vs. Toronto 67-66, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

@ Baltimore 58-74, 6-14 last 20 (4 Game Series)

Vs. Tampa Bay 54-80, 10-10 last 20 (3 Game Series)

The scheduling advantage goes to the Sox, but not having Manny in the lineup until possibly the second Baltimore series puts a big damper on their offense.  The Sox have played lights out baseball against the AL East (30-20), while the Yankees are just .500 against teams from the East and 13-15 against the West.  Their advantage comes against the Central, 27-11 and 6-1 against the Royals this season.  Only time will tell, but as we have learned being fans of these two teams, anytime there is a chance for drama it usually happens.  A month ago I would have said chances are nonexistent, a week ago slim to none and today you never know.  Here’s to an exciting stretch run for both teams.


18 comments… add one
  • I’ll be eyeing that Seattle series more, frankly. It’s good timing that Seattle actually lost 6 straight, or last week’s slump would’ve been even costlier.
    Let’s roll though.

    Lar August 31, 2007, 11:13 am
  • The performances of Hughes and, much more so, Kennedy/Mussina in the #5 slot are big question marks for the Yankees that will come up in 6 of the 15 games you’ve laid out above. I feel pretty good about Hughes. I have no clue on the #5.
    Though far from being mathematically eliminated from the division title race, I really don’t think the Yankees have a realistic shot at it. The nice thing is that with the 13 starting pitchers they’ve had to run through this year and the injuries and month-long batting slump, they still are, for the time being anyway, in a playoff spot. Winning the AL East would be a miraculous achievement, but just getting the WC with all that has gone on this year would feel pretty good for a team that quite legitimately can look back on 2007 as a rebuilding year, especially with regard to the starting rotation and bullpen. And once in, anything can happen, especially if the top 3 pitch the way they did this week.

    IronHorse (yf) August 31, 2007, 11:14 am
  • I’ve also said this before too – we might not _need_ to catch the Sox. If we have say, a 3-4 game lead heading to the last week on the WC, and maybe say, 2 games behind, I think I would’ve sat people out to give them some rest for the playoffs.
    Obviously, back in ’78 this would not have been possible, or made no sense. But by this token, the “collapse” might not happen just because the Yanks might not need to fight for it.

    Lar August 31, 2007, 11:17 am
  • I don’t really expect the Yanks to get the division, but I don’t think that’s really the priority. I think momentum is much more important.
    The Seattle series is incredibly important, probably more so than the Sox one. The Yankees have the opportunity to really knock Seattle out of it, if they win that series and keep playing decently.
    As long as the Yanks keep pace with Boston, staying five back or maybe getting a game up, then all they have to do is take two in Boston and they’re 3 or 4 games back. A pretty respectable place to be, especially if they have a comfortable WC lead.
    But most importantly, they need to keep playing well, and build some momentum going into October. I’d much rather have a passionate, fight-for-your-life September to carry the Yanks into October, than a comfortable coast into the postseason. The Yanks have coasted through the end of the season for years now, and it hasn’t worked out so well.

    KurticusMaximus- YF August 31, 2007, 11:25 am
  • Listen I completely understand the Yankees don’t need to catch the Sox. My only point was it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. It’s just five games, with a 3 game series coming up. I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but it sure does make the season a tad more interesting. For the first 3 months of the season we Yankee fans didn’t have much to cheer for, we have that now. Let’s see how it unfolds, either way this team deserves credit for fighting through some tough stretches.

    John - YF (Trisk) August 31, 2007, 11:30 am
  • The Sox would really have to tank it for there to be a realistic shot. I just don’t see them doing that because of their pitching which is too good to allow for any extended losing streak. Manny is a big loss, of course, but I see them getting by fine.
    It’s getting to the point where I’m more worried about the Tigers than the M’s. I just think they have a better team, and that the M’s have been outperforming all year.

    Nick-YF August 31, 2007, 11:32 am
  • I think that Ken Singleton made an alright point the other night on YES before the beginning of the series. He said that the Yankees could use the Red Sox to sort of “draft” into the playoffs. With that said I too don’t expect the Yanks to win the division (although it would be amazing).
    However, I like to focus on the division because it keeps everything in perspective. As long as the Yankees keep pace with the Red Sox, I think everything else will fall into place. And who knows maybe even the division.
    The Tigers have a decidedly tougher schedule than the Ms coming up, with two 3 gamers against the Twins, a series with Seattle, and a series at Cleveland to boot. The Ms remaining schedule, aside from the Tigers and Yanks, is less than stellar, which is why i wouldn’t put them away just yet.

    Leonardo-YF August 31, 2007, 12:30 pm
  • Leonardo, I can’t believe you would say the Tigers have it tougher than the Ms schedule-wise. No one in the MLB has it tougher than the Ms this last month. They have 4 at the LAA (who just swept them and are arguably the best team in baseball right now), 4 (in 3 days) against Cleveland, 3 at the NYY, 3 at the Tigers.
    This is all in the middle of a hideous 44-games-in-45-days stretch. They started that stretch, which does not let up until the end of the season, 2 weeks ago and have lost 7 of their last 9. The Tigers have 4 of days in Sept. alone.
    I really think there is no way you can say the Ms’ schedule is easier than the Tigers’ (or anyone else’s for that matter).
    The Ms are cooked, even if they beat the Yankees in next week’s series.

    IronHorse (yf) August 31, 2007, 12:58 pm
  • I wouldn’t say the Mariners have an easy sched. at all:
    -They’re starting a tough 9-game road trip, with 3 each @ TOR, NYY, and DET.
    -Then they have 10 deciedly easier games, 7 @ home vs. OAK and TB, and 3 @ OAK.
    -Followed by 8 more tough ones: 4 @ ANA and 4 vs. CLE
    -Then they close out the season w/ 3 @ home v. TEX.
    Certainly not easy by any stretch, and I especially think the next 10 games are key for SEA to stay in the race. Yanks v. M’s is sandwhiched by NYY playing TB and KC, so if the Yanks take 2 of 3 at home from SEA, the Mariners could very well be facing a 3-4 game deficit by the end of the road trip.

    Mark (YF) August 31, 2007, 1:05 pm
  • M’s are dead. There is no way they make it through sept with the wc lead, even if they gain it from the yankees next week. Beyond schedule, they are in the middle of a big losing streak, they still have a guy named Jeff Weaver starting for them, and they just are not as good talent-wise as either NY or Detroit, esp. with Zumaya back for the Tigers. Teams to beat for the WC are NY and Detroit.

    IronHorse (yf) August 31, 2007, 1:09 pm
  • It drives me kind of crazy when Baseball pundits say stuff like what Ken Singleton said, quoted by Leo above. (Although I do give Singleton bonus points for creating a visual metaphor for it.)
    Every September, commentators everywhere talk about teams focusing on their division or the wild card, but they never explain how one is different from the other. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t both just involve beating today’s opponent? That’s all any team can do, right? We as fans can rationalize things differently, but on the field or in the clubhouse, the objective remains the same: Win today. There’s not really any additional strategy involved, right?

    FenSheaParkway August 31, 2007, 1:42 pm
  • FSP: totally agree. And you are conditioned as an elite athlete to play hard when you are on the field. Some strategic decisions get made (i.e. do I burn my bullpen in this or that game if I have the WC in hand and would need a miracle to get the division title even if I do win this game), but even those types of decisions are only really an issue in the last few days of the season.
    End of the day, these guys are probably playing and being managed to win regardless and only very late in the last week of the season might considerations about resting certain guys come up.

    IronHorse (yf) August 31, 2007, 2:01 pm
  • I’m just really hesitant to put things away considering the Mariners. Yeah they face DET, LAA, and CLE for 11 of their final 24 games. Those are all pretty good teams. But this is my logic…
    They face DET today who is coming off a terrible series against KC. I mean there’s nothing more dangerous than a wounded team (ie. Yanks 8/28-8/30) but clearly their not playing their best baseball right now. Then they SEA makes their way into OAK, TB, and then @ OAK for their next 10 games. Now I’ll say this, if they don’t do well here they might be toast. But all of these games are right before their series @ LAA. These games against lesser opponents COULD provide them with the momentum they need to say, split at LAA, which I think would be a victory for them.
    They then head into CLE who is playing good baseball right now too. But a good showing against LAA could propel them to do well there. And they are at home which always helps. Then TEX at home, who I don’t see scoring 30 runs ever again.
    Anyways, those are my two cents. Let me know what you guys think.

    Leonardo-YF August 31, 2007, 2:07 pm
  • FSP: I also agree with you, “today’s” opponent is certainly the most important. But on a side note. I think its important to set your goals high as a team, and an individual player. While the wild card, and the division both have equal outcomes: the playoffs. Winning the division at this point for the Yankees, and i don’t’ want to apply to anyone else, should be the focus. Mainly, because winning the division, although far fetched, would mean that they would have played top notch baseball for an extended period of time. That said I don’t think the division for the Yanks is realistic. But in striving to do better than the wild card (better in the sense of record, which correlates directly to quality of play), they could put themselves in a better position if they make the playoffs. Thanks.

    Leonardo-YF August 31, 2007, 2:15 pm
  • Wow, I really need to stop attempting to multi task. I’m sorry they face TOR tonight, then Yanks, AND THEN DET. Just don’t mind me, please. I’m going to go look at some more Chinese currency’s. APOLOGIES. i’ll be back.

    Leonardo-YF August 31, 2007, 2:20 pm
  • I see what you’re saying about goal-setting, which is important, yes. The mindset has to be one of, “we can succeed”, however success happens to be defined. It’s still weird that things get framed as some sort of competition between the division and wild card, as if a different “sort” of win is required for either one.
    I guess it’s just a way for pundits to have something to talk about, because saying something like, “The key for the Mariners is to win games,” is something that only Tim McCarver can get away with and not be fired.

    FenSheaParkway August 31, 2007, 2:59 pm
  • Haha, or anyone on FOX for that matter. I get your point, and I think it’s a valuable one. It could also just be a way of dumbing things down, for a sport that gains more and more fans every year. Albeit stupid ones.

    Leonardo-YF August 31, 2007, 3:16 pm
  • I’d love it if the Yanks caught the Sox and took the division, not because of bragging rights, but because of the first-round playoff matchup. I’d much rather face the Indians than the Angels, especially in a 5-gamer.
    That said, I seriously doubt it will happen. It’s possible, like lots of things are possible, but it’s highly unlikely.

    Rob_in_CT August 31, 2007, 6:13 pm

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