The Yankees Sunday afternoon loss to the Baltimore Orioles felt like a big deal. With Mariano Rivera on the mound after 7.0 strong shutout innings from a thankfully healthy Hiroki Kuroda, it felt like a sweep was inevitable. The standings were already recalculated in Yankees fans heads with the Yankees pulling 1.5 games ahead of the Orioles and remaining in a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, with one swing from Adam Jones, we were reminded that even the mighty Mariano is mortal. It was shocking and, rather than celebrating a sweep and a tie for second place, the Yankees instead found themselves back in fourth place. It was a tough emotional loss.
In hindsight, however, it's not so bad. Sweeping any team, even the terrible ones, is a tough feat. Instead the goal is to win series. If a team won every series they played in a full season that would be at least a 108 win season, well above the range needed to make the playoffs, better than most teams could possibly dream. So winning series equals success.
Of course it would have been wonderful to see the Yankees sweep the Orioles, exacting revenge after the Orioles swept them to end June. Even revenge aside, sweeping a division rival and taking a leap in the standings, is always welcome. The fact remains, however, that the Yankees are 6-1 in July. They held their own against the Orioles and now welcome the sub .500 Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins to Yankee Stadium with a chance to close out the week before the All-Star Break on a high note. Meanwhile the Orioles face the third best team in the American League, the Texas Rangers, and close out against the Toronto Blue Jays, who swept them in June.
The Yankees did exactly what they needed to do over the weekend. If they can keep that up through the remaining 74 games, they will win over 90 games and be in prime position to make the playoffs. So, of course, losing out on a sweep to a division rival with the game's greatest closer on the mound hurts but, bigger picture, it was a successful weekend.