The New York Yankees, at 19-10 in their last 29 games, have gotten hot at just the right time. Nevertheless, a quick glimpse at the team’s remaining schedule and the standings show that the Boston Red Sox control the Yankees fate.
Out of Their Hands: The Red Sox Control the Yankees Fate
The Yankees are Rolling Right Now
The Yankees have won eight of their last nine series and enter this weekend’s series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a six and a half game lead in the AL Wild Card. After a three-game set in Toronto, the Yanks embark on a rare seven-game, three-team homestand that will determine if they have to play a one-game playoff on October 3. They open with a single game against the Kansas City Royals, a makeup game of an early season postponement, before taking on the Rays and Blue Jays for three each.
Kansas City is the only one of those teams that is arguably still in contention. As of right now, they sit three and a half games back of the Minnesota Twins for the second wild card spot. Tampa, at five games back, will need a small miracle to jump the four teams above them and catch the Twins. However, this will not stop the Rays from giving their division rival a fight in an attempt to play spoiler.
The Blue Jays, and their fans, likely cannot wait for next season to start as they were never truly able to get into a groove in 2017. While they did rebound from a poor start, they faded from contention much sooner than anticipated.
With that being said, it would not be far-fetched for the Yanks to win each one of these series and conclude this 10-game stretch with a record around 7-3. The Baby Bombers are contributing and this Yankees team looks like the team that was poised to shock the world before the all-star break.
Aaron Judge, fresh off an August which had people wondering if his first half performance was a fluke, seems to have begun to find his stroke again. Judge already has eight home runs and 19 RBI this month, which is more than double his production from August (3 HRs and 7 RBI).
Gary Sanchez, who first burst on to the national scene with a sensational second half of last season, has picked up right where he left off last September. Sanchez is batting over .330 this month and is coming off a 12 home run, 26 RBI August.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, is how good this Yankees lineup looks with Starlin Castro back in the middle of it. Castro and Didi Gregorius provide the team with solid defense up the middle and a lethal combo of quickness and power.
Boston is in the Driver’s Seat
No amount of bloviation or analysis can change the fact that Boston currently leads the AL East by three games. No amount of Judge moonshot home runs or Luis Severino strikeouts can cut into this lead. Instead, the Bombers need their bitter rivals to choke this one away.
Unfortunately, Boston has quietly won 11 of their last 14 games. The Sox will also be in Cincinnati against the lowly Reds this weekend. The Reds, led by veteran slugger Joey Votto, could—like the Jays or Rays—take the field with the soul intention of playing spoiler. More likely than not, Boston will win this series and a sweep is not outside the realm of possibility. That leaves the Red Sox with two series at Fenway Park. They will play three games against the aforementioned Jays and a four-game set to close out the season against the Houston Astros.
The series which might determine the winner of the American League East is Boston vs. Houston. Houston currently trails the scorching hot Cleveland Indians by three games for the best record in the AL and home field advantage throughout the American League playoffs. The Astros, who for the majority of the regular season held the best record in the AL, may enter that final series with the best record still up in the air.
In fact, in what would make for a storybook finish, it could all come down to a Sunday afternoon game on the final day of the regular season. The probable pitchers for that game are Chris Sale and Dallas Keuchel, and the Yankees are set to send Severino to the bump against Brett Anderson.
What Does It All Mean?
The AL East is far from decided, but if the Yankees are going to win it then they are going to need some help. Of course, a 10-0 finish to the season might serve to render all of this prognosticating unnecessary, but seeing as how unlikely that is, the Red Sox control the Yankees fate.
Now, the Yankees could choke away their wild card berth, but a nine-game lead and ten games remaining means it would take a historic collapse for that to occur.
Yankees fans find themselves in a situation they’ve been in quite often, they must root for the Bronx Bombers to win and for the Red Sox to lose. Otherwise, they have to gear up for that one-game playoff on October 3.
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