The AL East has not been its usual self this season. What, for years, has been arguably the toughest division in MLB, only has one team that looks as though they could compete for the AL pennant, the Baltimore Orioles.
No one could tell that to the New York Yankees, however, and their General Manager, Brian Cashman over the past month.
Cashman, unwilling to delve too deep into the Yankee’s prospect pool, yet knowing he had to add some pieces to stay in it, has done a good job adding depth through journeymen-type cast-offs who were underachieving with other teams. Those moves have kept New York in the race and dangerously close to the east leading O’s.
The formula was showing signs of paying off earlier this week when New York went toe-to-toe with AL favorite Detroit Tigers. The Bronx Bombers took three out of four against Detroit and its seemingly bullet proof rotation, sending out to the mound a staff of starters who were either retreads or youngsters still earning their stripes.
The Yankees, playing over their heads, or whatever you’d like to call it, found themselves just 3.5 games behind Baltimore and in the thick of the crowded AL Wildcard race.
Then the Cleveland Indians came to town. And just as New York had done against the woeful Texas Rangers 10 days ago, the Yanks dropped two out of three and lost more ground than they had before their series with Detroit.
These one-step forward two-steps back results will eventually begin to work against New York if they don’t stop playing to their opponent’s level. Nothing against Cleveland, who again is showing signs of getting back into the race, but Texas?
This week begins, for New York, with a pivotal series against the Orioles in Baltimore. The O’s have not relented their hold on the AL East since the Toronto Blue Jays have begun their annual cave-in. Being unable to secure a post-season berth despite playing some decent baseball under Buck Showalter, the Orioles will surely take this three game home stand seriously.
The Yankees fell back to six games behind Baltimore over the weekend and even let Toronto, who has won a couple straight, slip past them into second place by one game. The worst part for the Bombers might be the Wildcard standings, where they fell behind the Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners by a game.
If New York can’t muster a series victory over their division rival in Baltimore then the Wildcard could surely be their only hope, barring a collapse by the O’s. But hungry young teams like the Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels aren’t going to give up that play-in post season spot easily either.
For the Yankees to keep that underdog, long-shot, no-chance-in-you-know-where status alive, the piecemeal line-up Cashman has given to manager Joe Girardi, must flex any muscle it has in Camden Yards.