It is becoming more and more apparent when you watch the New York Yankees (77-60) play these days that they'd be lucky to earn a postseason berth of any kind.
The Yankees have not only blown a 10-game lead in the AL East--atop which they're currently tied with the Baltimore Orioles (77-60), to whom they lost 10-6 Thursday night--they're in danger of falling behind the Oakland Athletics (76-60) and Tampa Bay Rays (75-62) in the wild card standings. Yes, 2008 can happen again. Only this time it would actually be far more surprising given how strong they looked less than two months ago.
How did they get here? By going 20-26 since July 19 and sporting a 27-26 mark in intradivisional games this season. The Yankees are 13-17 vs. the Orioles and Rays, with three games left to play against each rival before this divisional race is over.
Who wins the AL East will not be settled this week, of course, but the Orioles--2-4 at Camden Yards vs. the Yankees this year--can make a huge statement by defending their home turf in this series.
Baltimore has high expectations now, and with that comes pressure. At this point, it's no longer about just contending for a wild card berth. A division title is in sight for manager Buck Showalter's team.
Last Sunday, Yankees starter Phil Hughes, fresh off an 8-3 loss to Baltimore at Yankee Stadium, told Yahoo! Contributor Network, "They're not gonna go away, obviously. It's September and they're right there. This team's for real."
The Orioles responded well to the pennant-race pressure Thursday, getting bottom-of-the-eighth home runs from Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis a half-inning after New York's five-run rally knotted the score at 6.
Derek Jeter may not be panicking, but he and his teammates better start playing with the spine that got them back into Thursday's game. Time is running out, and there are enough good teams in the AL this year to leave the Yankees out of October.
- Sports & Recreation
- Baltimore Orioles
- Tampa Bay Rays
- the New York Yankees
- Oakland Athletics