LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Drop Crucial Series During Otherwise Successful 10 Game Homestand

Monday, July 28, 2014

Yankees Drop Crucial Series During Otherwise Successful 10 Game Homestand

Prior to the All-Star break one of the main goals for the Yankees was to play better at home. From that perspective, going 7-3 in their first homestand after the break would seem to be a big victory.

However, considering that two of the three losses were against the Toronto Blue Jays, the trip was definitely less successful than it could have been. It is late July, and the difference between 8-2 and 7-3 starts to matter at this point in the season. Instead of being in second place with a game of breathing room, the Yankees now head off to face the Texas Rangers (who are struggling but nevertheless played the Yankees well last week) needing every game they can get just to keep pace.

There was always a bit of fear of the second half of the Yankees season. Yes, despite playing mediocre baseball for essentially the first 90 games, they were still in it. They just needed to stop playing mediocre for a few weeks so they could surge back to the top of the A.L. East, or at least to the second Wild Card. Such wishful thinking, however, was somewhat predicated on the the rest of the A.L. East playing just as poorly and lackluster as they had in the first 90 games.

Instead, the A.L. East has suddenly woken up and decided that it’s time to play. Over the past 10 games, the division leading Orioles have gone 6-4, the Blue Jays have matched the Yankees 7-3 record and the Rays have gone 9-1 to jump right back into the race. Only the Red Sox have struggled and even they managed to break even at 5-5. Everyone seems to be getting hot at exactly the wrong time for the Yankees.

Save for six games, three each against the teams from Texas, who are fighting for last place in the A.L. West, the easy part of the Yankees schedule is over. Even those games are no sure thing, as the tough play of the Rangers is still fresh in the minds of the Yankees from last week, and the opening series loss against the Astros in April still stings just a bit.

None of this is meant to disparage the 7-3 homestand by the Yankees. It was great and showed what this team can do when it plays to its skill level, with just a bit of luck is thrown in. It is more a word of caution that, for all their success, the Yankees still dropped the one series they really needed to take, and they are fast approaching the time of the season when all they’ll have left are series they need to take.

Even with a tiring bullpen, an exposed pitching staff and a spotty defense, the Yankees were right in Sunday's game but couldn't finish the win. Somehow, between now and Friday, when they next meet a division opponent, they need to find a way to close that gap. Otherwise they can kiss that .700 winning percentage over the past 10 games goodbye, and their playoff hopes with it.

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