LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Avoid Sweep As Urgency Of September Baseball Settles In

Monday, September 5, 2016

Yankees Avoid Sweep As Urgency Of September Baseball Settles In

This weekend was, obviously, not the Yankees best showing.

They began the series against division and Wild Card rival Baltimore after taking two of three to leapfrog the Kansas City Royals in Wild Card standings.

The Yankees were riding high, looking to carry the momentum of a few extra inning wins into the madness that is September playoff race baseball and, instead, they dropped the first two games of the series and narrowly avoided a sweep by winning Sunday’s finale.

After Saturday night’s loss, Joe Girardi called Sunday’s game the most important one of the season. With just about four weeks, 27 games, left on the schedule, Girardi is not being dramatic here. The Yankees need to put the pedal to the floor if they want even a Wild Card game for the 2016 season. Truthfully, sitting at only 5 games over .500 on the season, they still have a ways to go if they want to avoid a losing season.

The Yankees were shut out in the Friday and Saturday night games, a phenomenon that didn’t seem possible with August AL Player and Rookie of the Month Gary Sanchez in the lineup, but the young catcher was cooled off, along with the rest of the batting order, by the former first round draft picks the Orioles threw at them in the first two games

Sunday, then, was a nice rebound for the offense, as they went 3-for-9 with RISP including a multi-hit game for Chase Headley, who was back at third with Ronald Torreyes manning SS in the absence of Didi Gregorious. They won the game 5-2.

Michael Pineda was as erratic as ever (if I had a dollar for every tweet I saw imploring the right-hander to avoid giving up any runs in the first inning, I might be able to afford the face value on those seats Randy Levine holds so near and dear) but managed to limit the damage. He went 4 IP, 5H, 2 ER but was pulled in the 5th inning when he gave up some solid hits and a run to start it off.

That meant the bullpen had to put in some serious work to close out the game (5IP, 1H, 0R and 6 SO’s). Luis Severino pitched 2 innings, gave up zero runs and escaped a bases loaded jam only partially of his own making and Dellin Betances went 1.1 IP to earn the save. The pen will surely be tired ahead of another key series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Baring some epic collapse by the Blue Jays, a 27-0 run by the Yankees or some fortuitous combination of the two, the Yankees aren’t going to win the division but, if they want to gain some ground in the Wild Card standings, the series is still important.

In front of the Yankees are the Houston Astros (who face the team from Cleveland), the Detroit Tigers (who face the White Sox) and the Orioles (who face the cellar dwelling Rays). Plus they hold only a 0.5 game lead on the Royals (who play the Twins) and just a 1.5 game lead on the Seattle Mariners (facing the Texas Rangers).

Such is the position in which the Yankees have played themselves. Swiveling their necks (whether they admit it or not) up and down to see where they stand in the playoff picture.

So Girardi had it right on Saturday night when he called Sunday’s game important. And he’ll be right if he says it before every single game left on the calendar. They are all important. Time for September baseball.

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