From the Post -
“Sure we can catch the Red Sox if we play hard, play together, play for ourselves, and play for the fans,” The Boss bellowed through PR guru Howard Rubenstein yesterday. “We have to play like champions.”
Then Steinbrenner, who demanded a world championship from Torre and general manager Brian Cashman in early May, hinted jobs will be on the line.
“I will be watching,” vowed Steinbrenner, whose trips from Tampa to The Bronx have been reduced and who didn’t attend either of the two Yankees-Devil Rays games in Florida in late April.
Bold words from The Boss are nothing new. And since Cashman is a positive thinker with a never-quit mentality, it’s not surprising he still believes The Bronx won’t be dark in October.
“The talent level is there,” said the GM, who is painfully aware Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano underperformed during the first half and that until Phil Hughes returns, Kei Igawa will be asked to pitch every fifth day. “We are continuing to work to put it together.”
For the Yankees to tie the Red Sox, their rivals would have to post a 38-37 ledger in the final 75 games and the Yankees would need to go 49-28 (.636) after being 42-43 prior to the All-Star break. When it comes to the Indians, who are in play for the AL Central title, if the Tribe breaks even (37-37) for the rest of the way, the Yankees must go 47-30 (.610).
Since the Red Sox went 53-34 (.609) and the Indians 52-36 (.591) before the break, it’s not a good bet to believe either is going to slip into a .500 club.
Yet, that’s what the Yankees are banking on and need to happen. And then a team that put one hot streak together (14-3) has to take advantage of it.
Starting tonight, the Yankees play 29 games against teams with sub-.500 records. That means when the stretch ends, the Yankees had better be at least 20-9 to be in position if the Red Sox or Indians gag.
Those numbers are scary. But, like I said the other day, just get 5 games back, in the loss column, of either Boston or the Wildcard, by the end of July…and then the Yankees have a good chance.
The next three weeks are key for the Yankees. If ever they need to put together a long winning streak, it’s now. If the Yankees tank over the next three weeks, then it’s probably as good as over – for 2007.