Forget the division title. The Red Sox convincingly embarrassed the Yankees over the weekend and appeared to be on their way to an unprecedented regular season. But there is solace in the Yankees upcoming schedule – if they can seize the moment to gather momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Boston Red Sox are plainly a better team than the Yankees – at least for the moment. They are playing with more life than the Yankees, and they have the two best players in the American League in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez sparking a run-producing machine that never lets up. Meanwhile, the Yankees are mired in the low point of their season, struggling to win a game for every one they lose.
It’s one of those times when if something can go wrong, it will. Aaron Boone, the same manager who was at the helm when the team was thirty games over .500 is suddenly on the chopping block for mishandling his pitching staff and being too “Joe Torre like” instead of openly challenging his team to wake up and play baseball, a la the dugout rant displayed by Yankee’s coach, Phil Nevins.
Gleyber Torres, who looked like a walkaway to the Rookie of the Year award before the All-Star break, misfires in the field and on the basepaths with several inexplicable mental errors, Greg Bird, who is well beyond the recovery stage to regain his timing, has yet to reach a batting average of .240, and only manages to tease with his power. And there is more.
Brian Cashman has finally come back to earth. Sonny Gray and Tommy Kahnle, two critical pieces added last season at the deadline have fallen from grace with the organization. Neither J.A. Happ or Lance Lynn approached the impact of Justin Verlander on the Astros team last season. And Luke Voit – really?
In fact, the only plus Cashman realized this year was to add a good sum of international money to the Yankee treasury. The only trouble is that’s for tomorrow and not for today.
Yes, the loss of Aaron Judge has been immense. And the absence of Gary Sanchez‘s power bat in the lineup has been missed too. But the Yankees can’t sob any louder than all teams who meet with injuries to key players over the course of a season. Remember, the Red Sox have been excelling without their “Derek Jeter,” second-baseman Dustin Pedroia.
All of which is to say the Yankees face an uphill climb of their own making if they will be one of two teams competing for a title in this year’s World Series. Which brings us to the good news and the Yankees upcoming schedule for the rest of August.
Summarizing, the Yankees play the remainder of their games in August against teams that are a combined 166 games under .500. For the Yankees, this can be a blessing or a curse, and in some respects, their .500 record against the Orioles and Rays might be raised as a concern considering that both are teams they should beat, at least on paper.
Nevertheless, the team is at a point where the remaining games against the Red Sox are small when weighed against games with the likes of the Royals, Tigers, White Sox, and Mets, all of whom appear on the Yankees August schedule.
These contests in August become even more crucial when September rolls around, and the Yankees face that dreaded West Coast trip to play the Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners in what could be the deciding match-ups for the final Wild Card spot should the Yankees falter in August.
Aaron Boone’s continuing optimism about the team he very much believes in can only be verified by checks in the win column. By September, both Judge and Sanchez will return to the lineup, but who knows where the pitching will stand between now and then.
CC Sabathia is showing signs of wearing down, Sonny Gray has been banished to the bullpen, and Luis Severino has “lost” the command of his fastball and his slider is not producing the swing and misses we saw earlier in the year. All this while Masahiro Tanaka remains a shot in the dark whenever he makes a start.
Lance Lynn’s 7 1/3 shutout innings in a win against the White Sox on Monday gives hope that help has arrived, but again, the only game that counts is the one they play tonight and tomorrow night. Wins need to come in bunches, not piecemeal.
A month ago, who would have thought the Yankees would be where they now find themselves? But there’s no crying baseball, and the only way out is to move forward one game at a time. We won’t have to wait long to find out just who the 2018 New York Yankees really are.
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