Seriously, who would have thought that the New York Yankees turnaround would happen after Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup?
Since the day the MLB handed downed it’s 211-game suspension on A-Rod, the same day he would make his 2013 debut with the Bombers, New York has not only become a team that’s watchable again, but all of a sudden, they’re back in playoff contention.
Before Friday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks had come into St. Pete on a five-game winning streak – or it can be translated into an undefeated record since Ryan Dempster decided to plunk A-Rod for being a cheater.
“We knew this was going to happen,” said Andy Pettitte, who won his first game in six starts on Thursday. “It was just a matter of when.”
When is now, and the Yankees are playing better baseball than they have played since May when they were a first place team in the American League East – right before everything went wrong in the Bronx.
Lately, the pitching has been much better – Pettitte finally gave them something good Thursday, Ivan Nova has been strong over the past month and a half and, apart from Friday, Hiroki Kuroda has been pretty much lights out for most of the season.
Offensively, the Yankees once again have a formidable lineup, with Alfonso Soriano — who’s been on a tear over the past couple of weeks, hitting nine home runs since joining the Yanks – Robinson Cano has followed right behind Soriano in the hot-hitting department, having Curtis Granderson and, yes, even A-Rod back in the lineup has been helpful.
Also, Derek Jeter is expected to rejoin the Yankees on Monday when they start a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays north of the boarder – a team the Yanks are 12-1 against this season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi predicted not long ago that the Bombers would need at least 93 wins to punch their ticket into October – meaning they would need to go 25-9 over their final 34 games. It’s a tough task, but it’s certainly not out of the question.
“I just know that we feel pretty good, but we’ve got to keep getting better,” A-Rod said, who just recently said he would “shut it down” with all the off-the-field chatter. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Yankees are just a handful of games back of a wild-card spot, and as the season winds down, the Yanks are starting to have their work cut out for them. Of the final 34 games, 20 are against the teams ahead of them in the AL East, and the other 14 are all against last-place teams.
Unlike some teams, the Yankees won’t have to count on other teams to help them in the standing – they have the opportunity to control their own destiny.
A-Rod is back – and shutting it down – the lineup is producing, and overall, the Yankees are finally playing winning baseball. The Yankees are once again watchable, and now we get to watch what could be a historic month of September.
Gavin Ewbank is a Yankees writer for Rant Sports. Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter for more Yankees talk.