After a tumultuous and inconsistent first third of the season, the New York Yankees only find themselves one and a half games out of first place in the AL East.
The Yanks are starting to heat up as summer approaches, and they need to stay hot at a very important stretch of the season. Last Tuesday the Yankees began a 15-game run against AL East opponents. After a three-game sweep of the first-place Toronto Blue Jays, the bombers still have 12 games ahead against the division.
The next 12 games hold three against each of New York’s four divisional foes. The Yankees will get a clearer picture of where they stand in their division after this run, one that they must play well through. With the Blue Jays currently on a bit of a slide, the Yankees could easily have the lead in the division after these 12 games. They could also slip back into a hole if they don’t take advantage of this chance.
New York has to build on their 14-9 record against divisional opponents. It’s still early in the season, but this stretch could very much define the rest of New York’s season. The good news for New York is that the team looks poised to continue their solid play. A lot of good things are starting to fall into place at once for the Yankees. It’s tough when 60 percent of your starting rotation is on the shelf, but the pitching has improved lately. The Yanks have given up three runs or less in nine of their last 13 games and won nine of them. The bullpen has been huge for New York, and the emergence of Dellin Betances has made it much stronger.
As for the offense, multiple players are showing signs of heating up. Brett Gardner has 10 hits in his last six games, which has been important. Gardner is always a threat on the bases, and finally some of the big bats in the middle are coming to life and driving Gardner home. Namely Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann are the two players starting to swing the bat better of late.
The Yankees need to continue their timely hitting and strong pitching through this divisional stretch and they will come out of it atop the East. It continues tonight as the Yankees begin a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles, who are right on New York’s heels for second place in the division.