With the season coming to a close in three weeks the New York Yankees are creeping up the standings making their division title dreams a reality.
Throughout so many years, the American League East Title was seemingly always in the hands of the New York Yankees. Lamentably, over the last four years, that has changed.
Since 2012, the mighty Bronx Bombers have dwindled down to a team that’s, at best, considered a third or even fourth-placed team, making the Wild Card race their only hope for glory.
Over the last three years, New York has missed the postseason twice while being handed a quick exit in last year’s AL Wild Card game by the Houston Astros.
Things just haven’t been the same in the Bronx, and after general manager Brian Cashman sent away two of their best relievers in Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller along with their best hitter in Carlos Beltran on August 1, it seemed as though this year’s postseason would be Yankee-less yet again.
However, these aren’t your ordinary Yankees. In fact, since the beginning of August, the perception of the boys in pinstripes has changed a bit, hasn’t it?
They’ve gotten younger, stronger and even smarter in every possible way. Thanks to the rise of the rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, along with Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin, the Yankees managed a 17-11 record through August and now find themselves just 4.5 out of first place for the division crown.
Considering they were seven games back on the day of the non-waiver trade deadline, 4.5 is not a far-fetched number, by any means.
When everyone counted them out, manager Joe Girardi and his young bucks were sneaking out the back end with prevailing efforts. Defensive plays from Sanchez, Judge, and even old Brett Gardner have not only kept them in the Wild Card race but in the AL East race as well.
With a 73-65 record, the Yankees are hanging in tough and after a clean sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays, winning the division is not unconvincing, at all.
It won’t be an easy task, to say the least, and besides the seven match-ups against the Tampa Bay Rays, their schedule won’t be a walk in the park.
Coming to the Bronx next week is the NL West leader, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are currently sitting with a record of 79-60 with the fourth-most runs scored in all of baseball during the second half. Luckily, the games will be played in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.
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Then, for the next two weeks, they hit the road to face-off their arch rivals and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox before heading down to Tampa. The final stop of that trip will be in North of the border.
They’ll finish off the campaign against the Red Sox again and that very well could be a season-defining series that may bring everything down to the wire.
As far as the Wild Card race is concerned, the Bombers are just two and a half games out with the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, and Houston Astros right above them. If Girardi’s young guns continue to put up performances, then the AL East will be in their reach.
What must have brought Girardi joy was last night’s performances by pitchers Bryan Mitchell and the troubling Luis Severino who finally got it together as the duo put together eight solid shutout innings.
The new trend for the past two years has been that the Yankees are not favored to win the division. This time around, they’re the underdog. If they can hold their pitching together and produce some runs, the underdogs might just raise that AL East pennant.
After all, the schedule tells us their fate is in their hands.