With a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox--taking the series 3 games to 1--the Yankees have finished the non AL East portion of their 2015 season. In this, the final week of the regular season, they will face the Boston Red Sox for four games before closing things out with a three game set against the Baltimore Orioles.
With a magic number of 3 to at least clinch a playoff spot and the division still in play for a bit longer, the Yankees will look to handle their business while keeping an eye on their competitors:
Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (9/28 - 10/1)
The Boston Red Sox have an elimination number of 2 games, they still must at least keep the illusion of playing hard alive over this next series. Truth be told, Boston has played a lot better in the last month and a half of the season, led by promising rookies Jackie Bradley Jr and Xander Bogaerts. Plus, despite most players on both teams not having been present during the more bruising parts of the rivalry, it’s still understood that these games must be taken seriously. Boston won’t want to be the team against which the Yankees clinch their postseason berth.
The Toronto Blue Jays, who clinched their first postseason berth in 22 years on Saturday, will be facing the Baltimore Orioles who, while unlikely to quit under Buck Showalter, are just 2 games away from elimination. A handful of free agents who may be more concerned with preserving their health than sacrificing themselves for a meaningless game, coupled with Toronto’s seeming inability to lose these days, won’t make this the hardest challenge for the Blue Jays.
The Houston Astros, currently in sole possession of the 2nd Wild Card, but just 0.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, face off against the Seattle Mariners and a resurgent Robinson Cano. While already eliminated, the Mariners are likely fighting for their managers job and may want to make a last good stand. The Angels, meanwhile, will face the Oakland A’s, the worst team in the American League by a decent margin.
Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles (10/2 - 10/4)
Showalter is no fan of the Yankees and, despite rumblings of discord among Showalter and Dan Duquette, it’s a safe bet that the two at least agree on the fact that it would be delightful to play spoiler for the Yankees post season dreams. When hot, that team is still hard to beat and the Yankees offense will need to stay awake to take advantage of Baltimore pitching. They’ll have to hope that those soon-to-be free agents choose to take it easy rather than play for pride.
The Blue Jays will face off against the Tampa Bay Rays for their last season of the year. The Rays still have great pitching but, as a relatively young team, may be more inclined to rest some of their young stars than keep up the good fight. Then again, the Rays know better than anyone how much can change in the last game of the regular season. Depending on how things stand, they may be honor bound to play each inning like it means something.
The Houston Astros finish up their season in the last interleague series of the regular season as they face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks who are 6 games below .500 and whose pitching may not stand up well against the Astros and their bats. The Astros, who had the A.L. West division seemingly wrapped up into August, will be playing their hearts out for the next seven days. It remains to be seen whether it’ll be enough. The Angels close out against the Texas Rangers, easily the surprise team of the 2nd half, who may have locked up the division by this time and will be resting up for a deep playoff run.
This is what baseball is all about. Get ready for the last week of the regular season!