"This is it. Make no mistake where you are".
The Yankees have been waiting for this part of the schedule. Two ten game homestands with a quick six game road trip sandwiched in between. The results have been mixed. The last home stand started off with a bang, a three game sweep of the Twins, then the Yankees bats went silent against Cleveland and Houston to the tune of a 2-5 stretch. Sorry, but a 5-5 home stand in a pennant race just ain't gonna cut it.
So the Yankees responded with a 5-1 road trip to Atlanta and Boston. scoring 57 runs in the six games. Times Square is less crowded than the base paths of a Yankee offense these last six games. Now it's time for another ten game homestand. All ten games are against three AL East rivals culminating with a four game series with first place Toronto, now one game up on the Yankees on the loss side. The Yankees need to do better than a 5-5 split.
All and all it has been a topsy turvy season, but the Yankees are still in the thick of it. If I told you on this past, that Didi Gregorius would be hitting .272 for the season (he still doesn't have that hit for the cycle thing I predicted), or that Carlos Beltran would be the leader in batting average at .282 with Chase Headley right behind him at .276, well, it just didn't seem possible. While Gregorius, Headley and Beltran have enjoyed a resurgence and Brian McCann has remained steady with a team leading 82 RBI's, guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and especially Alex Rodriguez have struggled. And, although Mark Teixeira is out for the next two weeks and perhaps beyond, wouldn't it be nice to get everybody clicking on all cylinders this homestand?
None of that will matter much if the pitching falters. There is good reason to like what we have seen recently. Nathan Eovaldi is getting plenty of attention for his improved performances as the season has progressed. Masahiro Tanaka has not been lights out as some had hoped. but he is healthy (an accomplishment in itself for some fans) and he takes the ball every fifth or sixth day and gives a good effort. Luis Severino has done nothing to dissuade any of us who believe he is a young pitching stud. Michael Pineda may be the key to the staff the rest of the way and into October. At times Pineda has shown ace-type stuff. At times he has been healthy. Therein lies the primary concern---keeping this potential ace healthy. Ivan Nova has been about what could be expected in the first months following his return from Tommy John surgery. CC Sabathia might be returning from the DL shortly and could possibly make a spot start.
Not a bad pitching staff if healthy. The bullpen has been solid all year. Which means with a little bit of good fortune, good health and a few of the struggling players hitting their stride, the one and a half game deficit to the Blue Jays will be erased and more. Seven of the remaining 30 games are against Toronto. Even if the Jays win the division, the wild card appears to be in hand. The moment is here to decide.
Make no mistake where you are, Yankees.