Johnny Damon, of all people, did the math for me.
The Yankees were leaving the clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field last night when Damon took a final glance at the telvision. The Red Sox were in the process of losing to Oakland.
“That’s puts us 10 and a half out,” he said. “If we can get to five or six games at the All-Star break, we’re going to win it.”
“You think so?” I asked him.
“Check out the schedule,” he said.
So I did and Damon may not be the idiot he would have us believe. Counting tonight, the Yankees and Red Sox each have 29 games left before the All-Star break. Here’s a little breakdown:
Games against teams over .500: Yankees 12, Red Sox 16.
Games at home: Yankees 19, Red Sox 16.
It’s not unreasonable to think that the Yankees could go 19-10 in those games and the Red Sox 16-13. By the time the break rolls around, the Yankees would be 7.5 games out and it’s a race then.
Yankees schedule: White Sox (1), Pirates (3), Diamondbacks (3), Mets (3), at Rockies (3), at Giants (3), at Orioles (3), Athletics (3), Twins (4), Angels (3)
Red Sox schedule: at Athletics (1), at Diamondbacks (3), Rockies (3), Giants (3), at Braves (3), at Padres (3), at Mariners (3), Rangers (4), Devil Rays (3), at Tigers (3)
Schedule analysis: The trap for the Yankees is their final 10 games before the break are against the A’s, Twins and Angels, three good teams. They need to do a lot of damage in the next 19 games.
Boston has a rough road. That road trip to Atlanta, San Diego and Seattle could be a killer. Closing the first half with three at Detroit is no picnic.
Other factors: The Yankees have nothing but bad things happen to them so far this season and it has been cold beer and good times for the Red Sox. That will change at some point. It also will be interesting to see how the Red Sox react if the Yankees start to make a move and the footsteps behind them get louder. You know there’s panic just waiting to break out.
The Yankees should get better with the addition of Roger Clemens. He’s no Matt DeSalvo at least. Damon could be a hugh difference maker as the DH and we’re starting to see Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Robbie Cano play like they did last season. Joe Torre is starting to hit the right buttons again. Abreu gets a day off and goes on a tear. Miguel Cairo plays two days in a row and gets four hits. Melky looks like Paul Blair in center.
Whenever Torre is asked about making the playoffs, he says the same thing. Play for the division, win as many games as you can and look up at the end of the season and see if that gets you the wild card.
He’s right. They Yankees need to set their goals high and chase the Red Sox, not the Tigers.
Listen to the idiot (Damon, not me). This race isn’t over.