Before someone sticks a fork in the New York Yankees, they should know this team is currently sticking a feather in their caps.
An 8-1 cruise over the Kansas City Royals on Monday propelled the team to their 5th straight victory, leaving them just 3 games back of an AL Wild Card spot. A division title is a taller order, they trail the Baltimore Orioles by 6 games in the AL East, but it’s certainly not out of the equation, for the Chicago Cubs had swept the Orioles over the weekend while the Yankees swept the Chicago White Sox. Baltimore slashed the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night, hitting back-to-back-to-back big flies. Despite how good the Orioles have been all season long, the Yankees get to have their chances against the O’s next month. A 4-game series will be played between the two teams Sept. 12-14 at Camden Yards, while New York entertains Baltimore in a 4-game set Sept. 22-25.
So far this season the Yanks are 3-6 when pitted against the team they met in the ALDS in 2012. It’s hard to say the way things have gone to this point is advantageous to them if they want to capture the AL East. The Orioles have a better record than the Yankees do both at home (35-26 vs. 33-31) and on the road (39-29 vs. 35-30). If the season ended Monday, Baltimore would be basking in its first division title since 1997.
Then again, maybe this winning streak is a sign of things to come for the Yankees. After all, the Birds didn’t initially have a tidal wave of momentum, finishing both April and May at exactly .500. Nor can they lay claim to some crazy winning streak, the longest one they have had in 2014 is 5 in a row. Say, doesn’t that sound familiar? Yep, the men in Pinstripes matched that on Monday night and also reeled off as many consecutive wins April 12-17. If they can extend this streak for another series or two, it could put them awfully close to the top of the AL East.
It’s also not like the Yankees made any colossal trade deadline moves. Sure, General Manager Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on a few last month, but nothing extraordinary or eye popping. Chase Headley and Martin Prado have helped a little, but not a whole lot, and Stephen Drew’s mediocrity remains as prevalent as ever. Still, they’re 12-9 in August. Even if New York didn’t land a big fish, it’s worth noting to compare them to other teams who did. The Detroit Tigers made the move for David Price and are 12-12 in August, part of that in thanks to the Yankees taking 3 of 4 from the Tigers at Yankee Stadium Aug. 5-8. The Oakland Athletics ran rampant for so much of the season, traded their top prospect for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, dealt Yoenis Cespedes for a postseason rich Jon Lester, only to fall out of first place in the AL West. The A’s improved to 11-11 in August Monday with an 8-2 throbbing over the Houston Astros.
Let’s not jump to conclusion that New York will overtake Baltimore for the AL East. The Orioles clearly have put something good together. Despite losing Manny Machado for the rest of the season, they got an immense bargain when they signed Nelson Cruz for to a one-year deal for $8 million. That bullpen is a force to be reckoned with. Andrew Miller has paid enormous dividends since coming over at the trade deadline. Darren O’Day has pitched absolutely out of his head and Zach Britton has done a magnificent job since becoming the closer.
Just because it’s Baltimore’s division to lose, however, doesn’t mean the Yankees can’t swoop up and take it from them.
And with the way the Yanks are going now, maybe, just maybe, Derek Jeter’s farewell tour will last a little longer than Mariano Rivera’s did.