Well Joe Girardi's team finally has met its crossroad this week. With just 32 games to go and a 5 game deficit the Yankees get a chance at the team who is directly ahead of them. Forget about the first place Rays, they are long gone in the Yankees mind. The Yanks need to focus on their most hated rivals who come to the House that Ruth Built for the final time (unless a one game playoff occurs.) The Red Sox lead when they leave Thursday afternoon will either be 2, 4, 6, or 8. If the deficit increases the Yankees are done. If it is four the season is still on life support as there will only be 29 games to make up the hole. And they will be facing Halladay and Burnett this weekend, two guys who they cant hit. Is four impossible? No as we saw last year with the Mets collapse and the Rockies amazing run anything is possible. But there is a reason those are historic comebacks they do not happen every year or even every ten years. A two game difference and now we are talking about a come back.
Either the beginning of a great comeback or the official beginning of the first meaningless September since 1993 begins tonight vs. Tim Wakefield. It is truly a testament to the Yankees grit that they have managed all the injuries to key players that they are still in this race. But it is also a testament to the awful play of their competitors that they haven't put the kill on a team who has played very mediocre over first five months of the year. It is time for Alex Rodriguez to carry the team over the final month. If he has a big month he could win his second straight MVP award. The team also needs Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano to drive in big runs and get hits with runners in scoring position. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu need to keep up their hot hitting. Hideki Matsui returning makes the lineup deeper and stronger. And Xavier Nady has handled the pressure of New York beautifully.
As for the pitching the Yankees need to win almost every start that Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte makes. With Carl "American Idle" Pavano, Sidney Ponson, and Darrell Rasner making 60% of the remaining starts Moose and Andy starts are that more important. The bullpen has to be solid and not blow leads.
The pitching has not been the problem, even with all the injuries (Chamberlain and Wang) and ineptitude (Hughes and Kennedy.) If the offense was what it was last year this team would be leading the race. So for that reason these last 32 games are on the offense they need to hit and hit and hit some more to get this team to a 14th straight post-season.