Red-hot Yankees set to begin most pivotal week en route to MLB postseason

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DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor celebrate
DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor celebrate

On a scorching hot run, the Yankees have cemented their place in the Wild Card standings as the leader in that department for the American League. They currently sit 2.5 games above their closest competition, the Boston Red Sox.

They've won nine games in a row. They're clicking on all cylinders. Unlikely sources of production like Andrew Velazquez have been raining from the skies. It's all good in the Bronx at the moment.

But a road trip starts Monday. And frankly, this could be the most pivotal week on the Yankees' schedule so far. Let's break it down...

First, the two hottest teams in baseball are meeting each other in Atlanta. The Braves have been on a tear, winning nine straight just like the Yanks. It's the first time since 1901 that teams on a nine-game streak or better are meeting each other.

It's just a quick two-game set to make up rain postponements earlier this season, but the Braves are a much different team now than when these two faced off last. They may still be missing Ronald Acuna Jr., but their lineup -- anchored by Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies -- has been producing along with their pitching staff finally stepping up.

And if that wasn't enough to start the week, the Yankees then head to the West Coast to face another team hungry for a Wild Card berth that they have seen slip out of their fingers at the moment.

The Oakland A's, unlike the Braves, have faltered of late, losing seven of their last 10 games. And because of that, they find themselves tied with the Sox for the second Wild Card spot.

But a series win over the four games in California could result in a quick swap of the standings.

That's why these games are so crucial for the Yanks. Not only are they facing a team just as hot as they are, but more importantly, a team vying for their playoff position has four games against them on their home turf.

A series with the Los Angeles Angels wraps up the West Coast trip before the Yanks return home to face the lowly Baltimore Orioles. That's two series where New York should be able to win, too.

At this point in the season, you can make the case that every game is crucial, and rightfully so. But the Yankees have a real chance to measure up to the other hottest team in baseball to build momentum these next two days.

Then, they can make sure the A's are further away from them in the Wild Card race by taking care of business out west.

Of course, the AL East is also still in reach as well. But the Tampa Bay Rays, leaders over the Yanks by 4.5 games, play the Orioles once again. You'd assume they have an easy time in Baltimore, so one slip up for the pinstripes could make that deficit widen.

So, yes, every game is pivotal from here on out. But the Yankees have a real chance to keep their momentum going starting Monday night and head out west with the hope they can push a tough competitor further down the standings.

That's an opportunity that can't be thrown away.