Via Ken Davidoff –
Their Labor Day victory pushed the Yankees (73-64) a game ahead of Cleveland (72-65) and kept them a half-game behind Baltimore (73-63), as the Orioles beat the Indians 5-1 at Progressive Field. The A’s and Rangers, tied for first in the AL West (79-58) hold a six-game lead over the Yankees atop the AL wild-card heap, The current second wild-card entry, the Rays (75-61), were blasted by the Angels 11-2 last night and are 2 1/2 games ahead of Joe Girardi’s group.
With 25 games to play, the Yankees have 14 against contending teams (seven with Boston, four with Baltimore, three with Tampa Bay) and 11 against clubs out of the race (two more in this series vs. the White Sox and three each with Toronto, San Francisco and Houston). That’s not bad, and it compares favorably to Baltimore (16 vs. contenders, 10 vs. non-contenders).
Tampa Bay, however, has virtually the same breakdown as the Yankees — 14 against contenders and 12 against non-contenders. And the teams outside the perennially competitive AL East own very encouraging schedules. Cleveland faces contenders in just eight games and non-contenders in 17 games, while the A’s play contending Texas five more times and otherwise have 20 games against clubs out of the race.
Now, it has been noted you can’t predict baseball. The collapse of the 2011 Red Sox crystallized against a young, sub-.500 Orioles team that was driven by manager Buck Showalter to create misfortune for others. You never know. Nevertheless, common sense dictates you’d like to be facing clubs with no stakes beyond pride. If the Yankees can remain alive into the season’s final weekend, they’ll have to be encouraged that they finish things up in Houston.
Prediction(s): The Yankees will get that second wildcard spot and then blow the wildcard game; or, the Yankees will on the verge of getting that second wildcard spot going into the last series of the year and will then choke it up against the lowly Astros; or, the Yankees will be out of the wildcard chase by September 15th.
Then again, what do I know?