Just when the Yankees seemed out of it…
Last night’s 5 – 3 win at Tropicana Field didn’t bring them redemption – not entirely – but did give them an outside chance of making the postseason. Not that it matters when it all comes down to it.
Yes, it pushes the season into October but not much beyond. Expectations would be low if they make it that far but anything is possible. Dellin Betances offered the view that the Yankees needed “11 out of 13” and while they started out on that path, there are plenty of pitfalls ahead.
For those looking to bet on Yankees this season, Expectations are low – or lower – than making the wildcard game, evidenced by Mark Teixeira’s belief that the players “are trying to have fun out there”; when – if – the pressure cranks up, that may not be possible.
The question is whether they need it to be possible. Reaching the postseason is fine for the coffers and a boost for the players but beyond that, will expectations surely have been exceeded by an extra couple of games?
Confidence going into the offseason would be high and the Yankees roster better prepared for a genuine challenge next season. The short term view is more important according to Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager. “Staying relevant” might be an epitaph for the season if they make it beyond the October 2nd match-up with the Orioles.
It’s been eight years since the Yankees failed to make the postseason and it’s a streak they are keen to keep going yet failing wouldn’t be as devastating to the organization as it might have in previous years. Trading Beltran, Chapman, Miller and Nova was almost setting themselves up for this situation; regroup and come back stronger.
Mental strength has been tested and on occasion found wanting. Painfully so. Scoring 14 against the Red Sox ought to have left the Yankees with at least one win out of four but instead they ended 0 – 4. Bouncing back into the wildcard game from that latest blow would be some achievement.
‘Never give up’ was the message from the locker room but for how much longer remains to be seen. Two more games against the bottom of the table Rays offers more hope but a final week which sees the Orioles and Red Sox visit Yankee Stadium offers no guarantees. That’s provided the Blue Jays are despatched beforehand.
There’s no sense of foreboding yet and even if the regular season ends with failure, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to 2017 with a great sense of optimism.