On July 2nd, 1974, the New York Yankees were in last place, in the A.L. East, 8.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox.
By September 4th, 1974, the Yankees had tied the Red Sox for first place in the A.L. East.
Over the remaining 27 games of 1974, the Yankees would go 17-10, the Red Sox would go 12-15 and the Baltimore Orioles went 21-6.
The Orioles ended up winning the A.L. East in 1974, by 2 games over the Yankees (and 7 games over the Red Sox).
Back in 1974, it was a pretty big deal for the Yankees to finish second that year – as they had finished in fourth place the three seasons before that one.
Actually, the Yankees had a great chance to win it that season – as they were in first place on September 22nd, one game ahead of the Orioles. But, Baltimore won their last 8 games of the season whereas New York went 5-3 in their last 8 games. (The Orioles actually went 9-0 to close the 1974 season.)
What killed the Yankees in those last 8 games was losing a double-header to the Red Sox, in New York, by the scores of 4-0 and 4-2…and losing a game on October 1st, in Milwaukee, by a score of 3-2 in 10 innings.
What truly helped the Orioles was winning by one-run six times in their last eight games…which led them go 8-0. The biggest win may have been a 1-0 victory, in 17 innings, against the Brewers on September 27th.
It’s interesting, that, when an organization is in so many great pennant races, like the Yankees, that a team, and a season, like 1974, can get lost in the grand scheme of a franchise’s legacy.