Now that the division lead is all gone, it’s time to reset and look at what’s left on the schedule. These final 27 games will make or break the 2012 Yankees. It won’t be easy like it seemed a couple months back, but the Yankees still have a lot of control over their destiny given all the games against Tampa Bay and Baltimore remaining. Plus, how much worse can it really get?
The Yankees aren’t a 64 wRC+ hitting team like they’ve done in the last two weeks, and they’re not a 98 wRC+ hitting team as they’ve been over the past 30 days, either. With the players they have on the team, and with Mark Teixeira hopefully returning at full health, the lineup should be able to get out of this funk. It’s urgent at this point, though. They don’t want to be playing catch up with the schedule winding down.
The Yankees play Baltimore four more times, in Camden Yards this Thursday through Sunday. Including tonight, they have four more games against Tampa Bay. It’s really important for them to get back on track as soon as possible, because they will be playing catch up by the end of this week if they don’t.
On a positive note, they should be able to clean up on some of the bad teams left on their schedule: three at home vs. Toronto, four in Toronto, three in Minnesota, three at Fenway, and three at home against Boston.
Other than Baltimore and Tampa Bay, the Yankees toughest opponents will be Oakland, who they host for a three game set later this month.
Look, the Yankees have to shed that memory of their cushy ten game lead, and have to try to forget that they ever even had it. They have the talent and performed just fine for a good majority of the season, so there’s no reason to believe they can’t get back to performing at their previous level.
I’m not one to really believe that a team as a whole all can press at the plate or on the mound. Yes, hot streaks and cold streaks happen, and yes, it’s bizarre to see a team with this talent struggle for an extended period of team. Age certainly may be a factor, especially in someone like Raul Ibanez. Every team has injuries, but the Yankees have lost big pieces in their lineup over the stretch.
The Yankees won’t hit this poorly the rest of the way, I can assure you of that. The pitching has been up and down, but we have to expect CC Sabathia to pitch well (unless he’s hiding an injury) and Hiroki Kuroda to continue to thrive. Hughes has done a good job, too. These next 27 games are all about the team’s health, and getting players back on track.