With Division Lead Gone, Yankees Season Comes Down to Final 27 Games
Added by Gregg Snyder on September 5, 2012.
Derek Jeter (L) and the Yankees find themselves struggling as the division lead has disappeared.
A 10 game lead in the American League East. The wild card not even a thought. A very comfortable cushion.
That’s what the New York Yankees had back on July 18. It’s all gone now. The Yankees have gone just 19-25 in their last 44 games, and have lost seven of their last 10. The result; dropping into a first place tie with the Baltimore Orioles after last nights 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The last time the Yankees were not alone on top of the division was June 11. Remember those Orioles whom everyone said would fall out of contention and not be standing in September and October? Well, guess what, they are still here. In fact, they host the Yankees in a huge four-game series this weekend.
New York had better start playing improved baseball, starting tonight in the series finale with Tampa. From the lineup and pitching mound, to the dugout, it needs to be a complete team effort to get back on track. Nobody is feeling sorry for the Yankees despite their injuries to some of the bigger names. There is still plenty of talent on this roster.
With the division lead completed wiped away, it’s now a 27 game season. The Orioles are tied with the Yankees and the Rays are just 1.5 games behind them. Not only are the Yankees tied for the AL East title, they are just two games up on the second wild card spot. If the slide continues, the Yankees could very well see themselves on the outside looking in once the playoffs begin.
The Yankees desperately need a starting pitcher to step up and pitch a gem. In the last six starts, Yankees starters have given up 22 earned runs in 31.1 innings pitched. They’ve given up 41 hits, including 10 home runs in that span. The starters have combined for an ERA of 6.36. That is unacceptable and not a playoff ready rotation. When the lineup is not producing, the combination is downright deadly.
In the last seven games, the only Yankees regular position player hitting over .250 is catcher Russell Martin with a .308 mark. The big names have done next to nothing the past week as the Yankees continue to collapse. Derek Jeter has had a tremendous season, but of late has struggled, batting just .190 the past week. In that same span, Robinson Cano is at a .200 clip. Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones all join Jeter, hitting under .200 in the past seven days. How about Nick Swisher? In his last 22 at-bats, Swisher has struck out 10 times and recorded just two hits, both singles. That’s good for a whopping .091.
Those stats are not going to get the job done, especially in the middle of a run against your divisional counterparts.
Alex Rodriguez has returned from the DL, but how much spark can he provide? Is he fully healthy and capable of being that threat and spark the Yankees desperately need? So far, not so much. In the two games since returning to the lineup, A-Rod has hit just 2-for-8.
The lift must come from someone already here in the Bronx. Someone on the roster. The Yankees lack any true stand out prospect. So even with the September call-ups, it’s hard to find a young guy that could step in and be the one to turn this thing around. Manager Joe Girardi continues to say it doesn’t matter how many games you win the division by. Well guess what Joe…you have to actually win the division in order to say that.
27 games remain in the final four weeks of the regular season. These 27 games are all that matters now. Either the Yankees will turn this ship around before sinking, or a monumental collapse will be what this group is remembered by.
Who is going to step up? It will have to be a veteran that provides the spark the lineup needs. Hitting is contagious, it always has been. It’s time for someone to catch that fever and spread it around. Time is running out.