Via Ken Davidoff today –
Consider that the day Alex Rodriguez joined the team, Aug. 5, the Yankees went into their game (at the White Sox) with a 57-53 record, which put them on pace to win 84 games. At that point, they trailed the first AL wild card, Tampa Bay (66-45), by 8¹/₂ games (eight in the loss column) and the second wild card, Cleveland (62-49) by 4¹/₂ games, four in the loss column.
With A-Rod, the Yankees have gone 22-18, which has lifted their overall projection to 85 wins. Not surprising, given the success of both A-Rod and Alfonso Soriano in that period, yet certainly not a meteoric rise. Nevertheless, that seemingly modest record ranks as fourth-best in the AL in that stretch. By playing at a solid, .550 pace — a winning percentage that wouldn’t get them a playoff spot in the NL — the Yankees have gained considerable ground on Tampa Bay (15-22) and a little bit on Texas (19-17) as well as Cleveland (19-19) and Baltimore (18-19).
Just by not playing Monday, the Yankees gained ground on the second wild card while losing ground on the first wild card, a swap they’ll gladly accept. Between the Texas-Tampa Bay series and Cleveland at Kansas City — three games, starting Monday night — the Yankees can make significant progress by sweeping the Blue Jays
That would be the last-place Blue Jays, after which the Yankees will return home to take on the Giants, who reside in fourth place in the NL West, a game ahead of cellar-dwelling Colorado. And the Yankees end the season at Houston, where the Astros are working diligently to clinch their third straight first overall amateur draft pick by registering baseball’s worst record.
The Yankees’ other three games come against Tampa Bay, which is playing with about the same confidence and competence as the Yankees nowadays. It should help, too, that the Rays have the Orioles at home this weekend and that the Rangers follow their Tampa Bay visit with one to Kansas City, where the Royals are still in the race, and also wrap up their season with an Angels team that entered Monday’s action on a 13-5 run.
So, the Yankees close out against Toronto, Tampa, San Francisco and Houston.
The Blue Jays have gone 11-8 in their last 19 games. The Rays have gone 8-14 in their last 22 games. The Giants have gone 11-9 in their last 20 games. And, the Astros have gone 7-8 in their last 15 games.
Basically, everyone that the Yankees have to face over their final 12 games has been playing around .500-ball as of late. So, then, is it reasonable to say, if New York doesn’t win at least 7 of their final 12, that they choked it up?