Since September 3, first place in the American League East has been a difference of no more than one game. The Yankees and Orioles have locked into the sort of division race that hasn’t been seen since a fight between New York and Boston — the Giants and Beaneaters, I mean.
According to Elias, the streak of 21 straight games during which two teams have stayed within a game of one another for a division/league lead is the second-longest in baseball history behind the final 22 games of the 1889 season when the New York Giants and Boston Beaneaters stayed within a game of one another before the Giants won the National League by a game.
“I heard something today that it’s been 21 days that it’s been a game or tied, so why wouldn’t it go the whole way?” Joe Girardi said. “… I think (the team has) responded very well in this situation. After some tough losses, responding. Coming from behind. Winning some games in extra innings. I just like the way we’ve played. Some guys have stepped up and it’s been playoff baseball for a month now.”
Throughout this 21-game fight, the Yankees have not lost the lead. They’ve fallen into a tie, but they’ve remained in first place every day since June 12. They’ve remained in control of their own destiny.
“I think it’s important,” Girardi said. “I think that’s what you want to worry about. You want to worry about yourselves, not so much about what other people are doing, because I believe that can be wasted energy and your emotions can go up and down.”
The Yankees lost yesterday, but they’ve won nine of their past 11 and 12 of their past 17. They’ve played pretty well lately, and with 10 games to play, Girardi expressed confidence that this sort of thing will continue. He expects the race to continue, and he expects his team to keep winning.
“I was confident that they would be able to play well,” Girardi said. “I’ve seen them do it too many times not to believe that they would. That’s exactly what they’ve done.”
• Another small step forward for Mark Teixeira. “Tex did a bunch of work down in Tampa today, which I think is a good sign,” Girardi said. “He ran the bases – not at full speed – took his ground balls, did his BP and came out pretty good.”
• Girardi said he’s still not sure when Teixeira will be activated, and concerns about playing on the turf in Toronto is “something you have to think about.”
• Brett Gardner said he expects to take batting practice on the field on Wednesday. He’ll hit inside in the cage today and tomorrow. He still hasn’t been activated, and Girardi said that’s more a matter of making a roster decision rather than needing Gardner to do more to get ready. “It’s more of a numbers game,” Girardi said.
• Sounds like Gardner could be activated before Toronto. “I would hope,” Girardi said.
• David Aardsma is here and said he was told he’ll be activated tomorrow. “I haven’t faced a big-league hitter in two years,” Aardsma said. “But it’s a matter of, I know my stuff’s been good. It’s been playing really well down in Tampa. I know it’s not the same caliber, but I know my stuff is good. Now it’s just a matter of going out there, getting comfortable, and facing hitters.
• One thing to consider about why the Yankees are holding off on these moves: It could be that Justin Thomas is one of the DFA candidates, but they don’t want to make that cut just yet. Here’s what Girardi said today when asked if he had a full bullpen available: “I have to check with some of my lefthanders, because they’ve been used a lot. We’ll have to see how they are.”
• Girardi said he always reminds Derek Jeter to not push himself too hard while he’s dealing with this ankle issue, but holding back is not a natural thing for Jeter. “I cringe every time he hits a ball in the hole, you know?” Giradi said. “You hope the guy doesn’t get to it because it’s that one time the guy’s going to kill himself getting to first base. … It’s really hard for him (to hold back). I remind him every day.”
Associated Press photos