On Sunday, May 9, the Yankees had won 6 games in a row and had defeated the Red Sox in consecutive games in Fenway. The club was 21-8 and sat a mere half game back of Tampa in the AL East. Since then, the Yankees have gone into a tailspin, losing 10 of their next 15 games. They lost 3 of 4 in Detroit, won 2 of 3 against Minnesota, split a two game series with Boston, lost both games of a two game series with Tampa, and most recently lost 2 of 3 to the Mets. The club now has a record of 26-18 and sits six games back of the white-hot Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox are a mere two and a half games back. That’s the bad news. There are three, small bits of good news.
The first bit of good news is that the team gets a day off today. For some fans, this is frustrating. It would be nice to see them get back on the field and clobber an opponent and erase the memory of a bad two weeks. It’s probably better for the team to have a day off. Teixeira needs to get his head straight, Swisher could probably use the extra day off to rest his arm, and every day that passes is one day closer to Granderson returning and bumping the hated, loathed Randy Winn back to the bench. I’d rather see the team play as few games as possible without the team at full strength.
While the team is resting today, Tampa rolls into Boston for a three game series. Of the four possible outcomes (Tampa sweeps, Tampa wins 2-1, Boston wins 2-1, Boston sweeps), it’s hard to say which one is best for the Yankees. It would be nice to gain ground on Tampa, but it would be very satisfying to see Boston fall further down the standings. The pitching matchups are superb (Buchholz v. Davis, Lester v. Shields and Lackey v. Garza), so hopefully the games are intense and taxing.
Finally, the team has a rather advantageous schedule in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, the Yankees travel to Minnesota to face the Twins in the new Target Field. They will throw Burnett, Pettitte and Vazquez against Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, who I will profile on Wednesday, and Nick Blackburn. The Yankees have done well against the Twins in recent years and would have swept them last weekend if not for Mariano’s little meltdown. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and the Twins are no pushover. On Friday, the Yankees will return home for a seven game homestand against Cleveland and Baltimore. As of today, the Yankees are scheduled to face Carmona, Huff, Masterson and probably Mitch Talbot. With Sizemore on the DL and the team struggling to score runs, this series will be a good opportunity for the Yankees to pick up some wins. After Baltimore, the team travels to Toronto and Baltimore for three games apiece, and then returns home to face Houston. So, only 3 of the next 19 games the Yankees play will be against teams with winning records. This soft portion of the schedule couldn’t have come at a better time.
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