On the final off day of the season, the Yankees are flying across the county one more time. It’s been a long, strange trip so far.
The Yankees knocked around Felix Hernandez, but couldn’t do anything against Jason Vargas. They saw Mariano Rivera reach 600 career saves, but watched Scott Proctor and Cory Wade give up extra-inning walk-offs. They got key pieces back from nagging injuries, but shutdown their cleanup hitter for nearly a week. They stayed at the top of the division, but missed out on some chances to put some real distance between themselves and the Red Sox.
“I like the way we went and won a series,” Joe Girardi said. “Unfortunately, we’ve lost a lot of one-run games on this trip, and that’s the hard part. We’ve lost three games by one run each, but our club has been pretty good and to win two out of three (in Seattle), you’ve got to keep doing that.”
The Yankees started this trip with a one-run loss in Baltimore. Then they lost a one-run game in Anaheim and a one-run game in Seattle. They hadn’t lost back-to-back Ivan Nova starts since May 28 and June 3, but they managed to do that this trip (losing one Nova start against the last-place Orioles, and another to the last-place Mariners).
Splitting six games on the West Coast is far from the worst-case scenario, and the success or failure of this trip will be decided this weekend in Toronto. It will be decided by the Yankees ability to beat the Blue Jays, and it will be decided by Alex Rodriguez’s ability to come back healthy and productive.
Mostly, it will be decided by where the Yankees stand in the American League East when they return home on Monday. Right now the Yankees are four games up, and Boston seems to be reeling. A big weekend in Toronto could put some real distance between first and second. A bad weekend could put the Red Sox back within reach.
“We know what’s happening to the teams behind us,” Girardi said. “It’s hard not to look. Every scoreboard has every score up, so you’re not going to miss any score. We’re going to notice.”
Associated Press photo