The Detroit Tigers lost in the 10th inning at the hand of the Seattle Mariners. That puts them 2-4 on the month and 26-26 since the All-Star break, when the Tigers were a phenomenal thirty games over .500 only 88 games into the season. The victory last night by the Randy/Jorge-powered Yanks puts New York two games behind Detroit in the win column and dead even in the loss column for the best record in the American League and home field advantage, potentially all the way through the World Series. Home field advantage is the Yankees’ to lose, as New York holds the advantage in head-to-head play with Detroit, five games to two.
New York caught Detroit by going 32-19 (.627) since the break. As
Detroit fades in the stretch and watches their lead evaporate, it
appears more likely that pressure for the best record will come from
the Twins or the Athletics. Minnesota is 33-18 (.647) since the break,
and Oakland has been even more impressive at 34-16 (.680). The White
Sox are 23-27 since the break.
Despite their recent troubles and curious, suspicious dismissals,
Detroit is still the team with the best record, and
he-who-makes-coffee-nervous won’t let it slip easily. Detroit’s
opponents over their last 22 games are Minnesota (4), Texas (2),
Baltimore (4), Chicago (3), Kansas City (6), and Toronto (3), evenly
split between away games and Comerica Park games. New York finishes it
season playing 24 games against divisional opponents Baltimore (7),
Tampa Bay (7), Boston (4), and Toronto (6), 13 games at the Stadium and
11 on the road.
Whatever slight advantage New York may have in the schedule based on
the quality of opponents and that two of Detroit’s opponents are
divisional contenders may be offset by two things:
A. The fact that New York has only one day off after today, a travel
day between Toronto and Tampa Bay. Fortunately, all
travel is within the Eastern time zone.
B. Though New York had great success against their fiercest rival in the last set in Boston, New York went 2-4 immediately following the sweep in Fenway. In fact, New York is 8-7 since that series, though two of the losses were games where NY was leading in the ninth and ended up blowing the game. The four game set in three days September 15-17 should hold for some high drama, and possibly another post-series letdown, regardless if the last series didn’t quite live up to its billing, and it is certain that all of the AL East opponents would enjoy their shot at spoiling New York’s hopes for home field.
In all this many would say that making the playoffs is the most
important thing and that home field isn’t the prize, which is a fair
point. I have also heard the opinion that depending who would result
as the first round opponent, the best record might not be as desirable,
which is a concept I don’t support. Right now, home field advantage is New York’s to take.