Game 135: The Most Important Game of the Season

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

This afternoon’s series finale is the most important game of the season. Those are Joe Girardi‘s words, not mine. He called it that following last night’s loss. The Yankees have been shut out the last two days, and if you go back to last weekend’s series, they’ve been shut out three straight times by the Orioles. Yikes.

The back-to-back shutout losses dropped the Yankees to 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot. They haven’t been that far back in almost two weeks, believe it or not. Today’s game is the difference between 6-6 and 7-5 during this 12-game stretch against wildcard competitors. Either way, it’s not good enough. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Rob Refsnyder
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. DH Austin Romine
  7. RF Aaron Judge
  8. 1B Tyler Austin
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s again cool and cloudy in Baltimore, though the sun is supposed to be make an appearance later on. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to begin at 1:35pm ET and you can watch on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Didi Gregorius (arm) is still sore after being hit by a pitch yesterday. He was originally scheduled to be in today’s lineup … Mark Teixeira (neck) is out with some soreness. His neck has been giving him problems on and off all season.

Game 134: Bounce Back

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Last night’s game was just one of those games. Every team has those throughout the season. You get blown out, the offense doesn’t do much … it happens. That’s baseball. Unfortunately the Yankees couldn’t really afford a game like that. The loss to the Orioles combined with the Tigers’ win means the Yankees are again 3.5 games back of Baltimore and Detroit for the second wildcard spot.

These next two games this weekend aren’t must wins, but they are incredibly important and the Yankees need to take advantage of these head-to-head matchups against the O’s. The easiest way to gain ground is to beat the team you’re chasing yourself. The Yankees have a chance to do that this weekend. They dropped the ball last night. Now they have to do what they did in Kansas City and win the next two games. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 1B Mark Teixeira
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another cool and cloudy night in Baltimore, though there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will start a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Awards Notes: Sanchez was named both the AL Rookie of the Month and AL Player of the Month for August. That’s pretty cool. He’s the first player to win both in the same month since Jose Abreu in July 2014. He’s the first Yankee to be named Rookie of the Month since Robinson Cano (September 2005) and the first Yankee to be named Player of the Month since Curtis Granderson (August 2011).

Game 133: Control What You Can Control

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Let’s do some quick math. Right now the second wildcard spot has a .541 winning percentage, which works out to 88 wins across a full season. The Yankees need to go 19-11 the rest of the get to reach 88 wins. Their best 30-game stretch this season is 18-12 from July 9th through August 13th, so it’s not impossible for this group. Long shot? Yes. But not impossible.

Here’s where it gets complicated: the Tigers have tied the Orioles for the second wildcard spot, and the Yankees don’t play Detroit the rest of the season. They’re going to need help from the Indians and Royals and, sigh, the White Sox and Twins. The Yankees have a brutal schedule this month. The Tigers have it pretty easy. There’s nothing the Yankees can do about that though. They can only control what they can control, and that starts with tonight’s game against the Orioles. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Brian McCann
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Judge
    RHP Chad Green

It is cool, cloudy, and humid in Baltimore. Not exactly baseball weather, but it’ll do. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Hicks (hamstring) has a Grade II strain, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. He hurt himself running out a ground ball last night. The Yankees won’t place Hicks on the disabled list because there’s no need with expanded rosters, but this is going to keep him out a few weeks. Crud.

Game 132: An Important Rubber Game

(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

As soon as the Royals tied last night’s game, it felt like a loss was inevitable. It was only a matter of time until they completely blew it, right? Rather than suffer the inevitable loss, the Yankees rallied for an improbable tenth inning win to keep pace in the wildcard race. That was a character building game. Going to need to win some ugly ones like that throughout the season.

Tonight’s game is a chance for the Yankees to win this series against the Royals, after winning series against the Mariners and Orioles, two other wildcard competitors. Sweeps would have been nice, but winning the series is step one, and the Yankees accomplished that against Seattle and Baltimore. Time to do it against Kansas City. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Brian McCann
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Luis Cessa

It rained in Kansas City for much of the day but the forecast is clear tonight. Should be no win-sabotaging rain delay in this one. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:15pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Game 131: Tanaka Tuesday

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The last two games have thrown a wrench into the Yankees’ plans to get back into the postseason race, though at least tonight they have their best starter on the mound. And their best relievers are well-rested too. With any luck, the Yankees will only have to use two pitchers this evening. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 1B Tyler Austin
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Now, the bad news: it’s been raining in Kansas City. The forecast says there will be scattered thunderstorms for most of the evening as well. It’s not supposed to dry up until 10pm ET or so. We might be in for a delay, but hopefully not. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 8:15pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees have called up Chasen Shreve, the team announced. Kirby Yates was sent down to rookie Pulaski to make room on the roster. Pulaski’s season ends Thursday, so the Yankees will be able to call Yates back up Friday and circumvent the ten-day rule. Rosters expand Thursday.

Game 130: Another Important Series

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are halfway through this crucial 12-game stretch against fellow wildcard contenders. They took two of three from both the Mariners and Orioles, yet it feels like they could have done more. Either way, winning those series was pretty much the bare minimum, and that is again the case this week. The Yankees have to at least win this series against the Royals to stay in the race. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 1B Tyler Austin
    RHP Michael Pineda

The internet tells me it is warm and sticky in Kansas City, and there is also some rain in the forecast later tonight. Shouldn’t be anything that interrupts the game unless they play extra innings. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:15pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Awards Note: Once again, Sanchez is your AL Player of the Week. He is the first rookie in history to win it back-to-back weeks. Wild. He’s also the first AL player to win it back-to-back weeks since Albert Belle in 1998. Sanchez having Belle’s career sure would be fun, minus all the crazy guy stuff.

Game 129: Finish The Sweep, For Once

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

The Yankees are rolling right now. They’ve won their last four games and outscored their opponents 37-10 in the process. They’re also now only 2.5 games back of the second wildcard spot, and a win over the O’s today would bring them to within 1.5 games. The Yankees haven’t been that close to a playoff spot since April 13th. April 13th! That was seven games into the season. Yeah, it’s been a while.

Of course, to get to within 1.5 games of a postseason spot today, the Yankees have to do something they haven’t done all season: sweep a three-game series. They have swept a four-game series this year — two of them, in fact (A’s and Angels) — but never once a little three-game series. They’re 0-6 in the third game when winning the first two games of a three-game series in 2016. Yuck. Change that today, fellas. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. C Brian McCann
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s another nice and sunny afternoon in the Bronx. Pretty wonderful baseball weather. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.