The 11-game Moment of Truth starts today

Yankees survive late rally to finish off sweep of White Sox
Yankees rank 11th in ESPN's Future Power Rankings
MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees
(Presswire)

Thanks to last night’s sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, the Yankees have won five of the first six games of this all-important ten-game homestand. They took two of three from the Orioles over the weekend and swept the last place ChiSox, which is pretty close to the best case scenario. Sunday’s bullpen meltdown still stings, don’t get me wrong, but at least the Bombers rebounded well with the three straight victories.

Winning five of the first six homestand games was very important because these next eleven days are going to be a nightmare. The White Sox won’t be in the Bronx to kick the ball around — seriously, are they not one of the sloppiest teams you’ve ever seen? awful — and use a parade of overmatched rookie pitches anymore. No, now things get really tough. It’s make or break time.

Matt outlined the schedule situation of the various wildcard contenders yesterday, but the Yankees’ schedule is worth a deeper look. Starting tonight, they head into an eleven-game stretch that will more or less definite the rest of their season:

  • Four games vs. Red Sox in Yankee Stadium
  • Four games vs. Orioles in Camden Yards
  • Three games vs. Red Sox in Fenway Park

That’s hell. Hell with no off-days scheduled. Just spitballing it, how many of those eleven games do you think the Yankees need to win to remain in the postseason hunt? Remember, there will be only 12 games left in the season after the stretch, so they have to legitimately make up ground and not just tread water. The time for water-treading is over. Seven wins in eleven games is the bare minimum, no? Anything less than that and it’s probably time to shift focus to the final few innings of Mariano Rivera‘s career instead of the out-of-town scoreboard.

For the sake of having numbers and something tangible to look at, here’s how the Yankees have fared against the Red Sox and Orioles so far this season:

W-L Runs Scored Per Game Runs Allowed Per Game
Red Sox 5-7 4.1 5.1
Orioles 7-8 3.5 3.9

Do you know what those numbers mean? Absolutely nothing. What happened earlier this year has no impact on what will happen going forward. Not only have the Yankees rebuilt their lineup by trading for Alfonso Soriano and getting a small All-Star team back from the DL, but the Red Sox and Orioles have remade their rosters with trades and injuries and whatever else. How much you want to bet some random September call-up does something huge at some point in those eleven games? It’s damn near inevitable. That’s baseball, man. It’s weird sometimes.

The only thing we know with any certainty is this: those eleven games are going to be the toughest eleven games of the season. The Red Sox and Orioles are really good teams and always seem to play the Yankees hard. Maybe one or both of those clubs will have a bad series, but I wouldn’t count on it. New York will have to play its very best baseball of 2013 to make it through these next eleven days and continue to worm their way into a playoff spot. There is no margin of error anymore, that came and went last month.

On the other side of the coin, if the Yankees do manage to survive those eleven games and come out of them still within striking distance of a postseason berth, they’ll be rewarded by playing nine of their final dozen games against losing teams. Not just losing teams, I’m talking terrible, horrible, no good last place teams. Three against the Blue Jays, three against the Giants, and three against the Astros. There are three games with the Rays mixed in there — how enormous could that series be? goodness — but that’s what awaits the Yankees after this eleven-game stretch. By no means are those easy wins, but they’re damn easier than beating Boston and Baltimore. The most important stretch of the 2013 season begins tonight.

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Yankees survive late rally to finish off sweep of White Sox
Yankees rank 11th in ESPN's Future Power Rankings
  • CountryClub

    In my opinion, one way or another, they need to win 6 of the next 8.

    • emac2

      7 games against the Sox and 7 behind in the loss column.

      • CountryClub

        I would have had more interest in the Sox if they had lost last night. At this point, I’m just worried about the Yanks making the playoffs. I don’t see catching Boston as a realistic goal. Obviously, if NY swept them this weekend that would change things. But 4 game sweeps are difficult and Boston is hot.

        • I’m One

          Boston was hot as of yesterday. It’s a new day. Time for them to cool off.

          /glasshalffull

        • emac2

          I think the key is to stop worrying and enjoy playoff quality baseball.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Love,

            Mark Sanchez

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

        This is a nice possibility, but the Yankees are 5-7 against them and 2-4 at home against them.

        How about a nice 3/4 jobber to level those numbers, eh?

        • I’m One

          I’d be VERY happy with that. Of course, I wouldn’t turn down a Yankee sweep of the Sox either. ;-)

  • emac2

    If nothing else we have an 11 game playoff over three series against elite teams.

    Baseball at it’s best!

    On the other hand.

    This is when you really start to see the cost of the teams failure to make a few early season moves to address the injuries. Just one or two wins scraped from the first half (where prices were somehow too high to do anything?) would have been very significant.

    • 28 this year

      I mean, i wish the Yankees did something in June or early July because at least that is realistic but before that, there isn’t a move to ever be made because every team wants their fans to still think they are in the hunt for the playoffs. You saw how the Phillies didn’t sell anything until the end of August when they had no shot.

    • MannyGeee

      Counterpoint: Outside of a massive overpay for John Buck (from a Mets team that would prefer to not make a Yankee team better, I would assume), there was very little out there for the Yankees to grab. A-Rod has been better than Micheal Young, Mark Reynolds has been as good a platoon bat one could expect (for free!), and Jeter/Granderson/A-Rod/Soriano/Reynolds has been an upgrade better than ANY TEAM this season.

      Sure, one could argue that pitching is always needed, but outside of Peavy… who else got traded that would have been worth it?

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Like I said, the next 11 days, thanks to two four gamers, there’s no time to rest. Time to push through this, for the players and for us fans alike.

    Lets roll. Time to finish off this late-season push.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    “On the other side of the coin, if the Yankees do manage to survive those eleven games and come out of them still within striking distance of a postseason berth, they’ll be rewarded by playing nine of their final dozen games against losing teams. Not just losing teams, I’m talking terrible, horrible, no good last place teams.”

    This.

    Know what, though? Fuck that. Never say die. We’re taking the fight where it needs to be taken. Prepare to unleash hell.

    • JGYank

      That will be the last stand if we don’t take care of business now. It will help us finish strong. Our schedule (lack of off days aside) has really helped us this month considering we play losing teams and other AL east contenders giving us the perfect opportunity to gain ground.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      23-0 starts now.

  • Conor in China

    At least Nova starts 3 of the 11. That’s who I’d pick to have an extra game. I wonder if it would do Kuroda and the team well to skip him this weekend.

    • I’m One

      I don’t think they’ve got anyone better to replace him.

    • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

      Can’t afford it. Who would pitch in his stead? Certainly not Hughes.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Agreed. They’re going to have to figure this out as he gets out there. If he’s able to get through five without tiring out (and that does seem like an “if” right now), then you’ve got an expanded bullpen that can chip in.

        I don’t care if they were facing the Chicago School of Junior Cosmetology last night. That was still a VERY encouraging start from CC.

      • Conor in China

        Calling up Chase Whitley (who’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster before the rule 5 draft) and asking him to go through the order twice might be just as effective as Kuroda has been. If the rest helped Kuroda get back to effectiveness, it would be worth it even if Whitley got hit hard.

      • trr

        Hughes??? (shudders)

  • dkidd

    hard to make up ground considering the rays schedule over the same 11 games

    no crying in baseball
    one game at a time
    just win, baby
    dats it!

    • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

      Want to think there’s a chance the Rays could lose, facing Felix and Iwakuma this weekend.

      • I’m One

        It would be nice to gain a game on the Rays, but even status quo is acceptable since they still have to face them. The point is, as we’ve all pointed out, they just need to keep winning and hope for a few key losses by the teams in front of them.

      • SDB

        They won’t face Felix. He’s been moved to a Wednesday start with back issues.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Maybe, hopefully, (probably not), the White Sox can squeeze a game or two from the Orioles this weekend. Too bad that, despite the fact that he could on regular rest, Chris Sale doesn’t go in that series.

    Orioles are slumping, and it would be nice to see them dropped by the roadside in the not-so-distant future.

    • JGYank

      That’s why it’s important we play well against them in that 4 game series so we can get them out of the way and just focus on TB and Cleveland. Facing 2 teams and succeeding is easier than succeeding facing 3.

  • JGYank

    Boston is starting to get a nice lead in the division. The key for us to win a WC is to wreck the Os to put them out of the race and play well enough against the Sox so we don’t lose ground in the race. We just have to pray TB and Cleveland lose. We can take care of TB later. However, Cleveland’s schedule concerns me.

    • JGYank

      At least 3-1 vs the Os and maybe 4-3 or 5-2 against the RS depending on whether or not we sweep the Os. So 8 wins in total.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    Still maintain that the most damaging losses on the Yankees’ result sheet are those two blown opportunities to sweep the Orioles.

    75-64 and 73-65, compared to 77-62 and 71-67. The Orioles would be six games out the WC and 5.5 back of the Yankees. They would be buried. The series next week would still be tough, but they’d be in the spoiler role, not the contending role. It would be one less team to worry about down the stretch.

    The fact that the Yankees would be closer to the Rays is a “no, duh” sort of thing. Obviously if the Yankees won games that they lost, they’d be closer. I’m highlighting those two Orioles games not only for psychological reasons, but because those were two games the Yankees had late leads in. Very unfortunate.

    • NeilT

      Too many of those games, though… the ChiSox extra innings game, Mo’s blown save vs. the Mets (hell, getting swept by the Mets!), the Oakland 18-inning game …

      • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

        Well, like I implied, we can do that with so many games. The White Sox and A’s extra innings games are fine examples.

        But those weren’t two-game swing games (I mean, maybe Oakland was, but they still likely wouldn’t have a better record than them at seasons’ end). The Orioles were. It would’ve been nice if the Orioles were dead and buried by this point, and it would’ve been a three-team race and not a four-team race. I know, maybe it’s not as simple as I’m typing it out to be (it’s not a Fallacy of Predetermined Outcome thing, but wins and losses on given days can affect future games), but the Yankees’ controlled their fate with two chances to sweep the Orioles, were on their way, and for one reason or another, were unable to finish the job. One time, Mo looked shockingly horrific. The other time, Girardi mismanaged big-time.

        Hopefully the White Sox can do some good things this weekend and, coupled with some big-time Yankees success, the Orioles will still be beyond reach come Monday.

        • dkidd

          they just kicked the ball around like little leaguers for three games, so i’m not sure we can ask the white sox for any more help
          :)

  • Bubba

    We need

    CC to pitch close to the back of his BB card
    Hiroki to get his second wind
    Andy to continue his trend of better starts
    Nova to be Super Nova
    Duffy to provide a little lightning in a bottle
    The Captain to do that Jeter thing he does

    If we get 4 or more of the above happening we should be in good shape.

    • JGYank

      We could also use 09 Postseason Arod, August Soriano,and Wells, Jeter, Ichiro, and Overbay to be five years younger.

    • NadaMasLaPuntita (Rolling Donut)

      Right. It’s not that complicated. CC, Kuroda and Andy need to pitch like they can. Otherwise, we’re screwed

  • JGYank

    If we want 92 wins we need to go 17-6. Hard but not impossible.

    On Aug 8, we were 57-56 (after the WS sweep)and since then we have went 18-8 and now have a positive run differential. So it can be done.

    • NYinTX

      I think they need to finish 18-5. Breaking it down into two groups of games, they need to go 8-3 and then 10-2. That’s going to be tough. Not impossible, just a really tall order.

      • JGYank

        Well we can knock out Bal ourselves and we can sweep TB so that will lower the number of games we need to win. The problem is Cleveland and their easy schedule. But I think 92 will do it.

    • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

      Less than impossible, but more than hard.

  • Hearn

    9-2 in the next 11 Games. LET’S DO THIS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO4tIrjBDkk

    • dkidd

      great scene in a ridiculous movie

    • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

      Hahahaha. I just quoted this last night in a completely different context and I had to go look up the quote word for word.

      It’s much different when you watch the scene.

      Dkidd is dead on: great scene in a ridiculous movie.

      I feel like Willie Beamon right now. I was filled with cynicism about these next 11 games but Tony D’Amato someone walked me back into believing.

      • MannyGeee

        OK, I’ll bite. What other context could you POSSIBLY have used the Pacino speech in?

        As a sidenote, I drop this on my softball teams FB page before EVERY playoff run. Never works, we end up getting trampled.

        • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

          We had our FF draft last night and I named my team the Miami Sharks and a few people (believe it or not) has no idea what I was talking about.

          I told them I named my team that “because we fight for that inch. we claw with our fingernails for that inch.”

          Two people still had no clue what I was talking about and I wanted to punch them so I went to imdb to make sure I had the exact quote right. I did. They were just dumb people I guess….or not fully developed men. Something like that.

          • MannyGeee

            Well played sir. I can dig it

  • your mom

    We need to at the minimum win 11 games. It’s doable.

    • Chris

      And if by minimum you mean 16, you are right.

  • ralph

    The Yanks need to win each series 3 -1, 2-1 3 -1 that 8 of the 8 -3 in the 11 key games , that’s a tall order