As Michael Kay said at the end of Sunday's YES Network broadcast, 'Wow'!" The word applied not only to Mariano Rivera's bases loaded strikeout of Albert Pujols, but to the entire 10 game road trip.
The Yankees started the trip 3-1 and ended it 4-6 including a three game sweep at the hands of the Oakland A's. In the process they dropped to third place in the A.L. East behind the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. To say the trip was a disappointment would be an understatement.
The good news is, with the exception of a short five game trip starting at the end of July, the Yankees are done with the West Coast portion of their season. No more late night starts, no more Oakland A's and no more CC Sabathia pitching in front of his hometown crowd.
Now the Yankees head home and, after an off-day today, they finish out the month with 12 games that will take them to the official midpoint of the season at 81 games. Six of those games are against the division rival Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees simply cannot afford another sub .500 record over the next two weeks. They have a 16-11 record within their own division and they need to maintain that.
The Tampa Bay Rays are surpassing expectations offensively and will soon get a presumably healthy David Price back to lead their rotation. The Baltimore Orioles are showing that last year was no fluke with their offensive prowess. The Boston Red Sox are showing that clubhouse chemistry does make a difference. The Toronto Blue Jays are awaking from their season long slumber. Therefore, the Yankees need to keep pace. More importantly, they need to do it with the team they have done it with all season.
It seems as if the Yankees have been waiting for their superstars and high priced acquisitions to come off the disabled list to jumpstart the team. For awhile, it seemed to be a good plan. Curtis Granderson came off the disabled list and looked like he was coming around before he was injured again. Mark Teixeira came off the DL but, after providing some powerful heroics, struggled mightily before being shut down Saturday with inflammation in his injured wrist.
Even the fill-ins such as Kevin Youkillis and Eduardo Nunez just can't stay healthy. These injuries are virtually unprecedented and every time Robinson Cano makes a diving play in the field or gets hit by a pitch, Yankee fans cringe. Please, not Robbie.
The point is, the Yankees might not get back the multi-million dollar players they expected so they'll need to proceed and fully embrace the players who have gotten them this far starting with the next 12 games.