The “must-win” labeled has been tossed around a lot these past few weeks. Tonight, it will be very nearly a literal statement.
The Yankees have not reached the point of mathematical elimination, but they’re pushing the envelope of realistic expectation. Two and a half out games of the wild card with 12 games to play, they’re tied with the Royals, a half game behind the Orioles, and two games behind the Indians. It’s not an impossible situation just yet, but any loss in these next 12 games is going to feel like an elimination.
Stumbles throughout the wild-card race have helped keep the Yankees in the hunt, making some of those previous must-win games little more than missed opportunities. It no longer looks like it will take 93 wins to get a wild card berth like it did last year. It might not even take 90.
“It might come down from that a little bit, but I don’t think too much,” Joe Giradri said. “I really don’t. Eighty-nine might do it.”
Getting to 89 wins means a 10-2 record in these final two weeks. It’s not out of the question — there are some awfully bad teams on the schedule — but the margin for error is growing thinner and thinner, and that’s before the wild-card play-in game.
Twelve games to go. Better hope each one matters.
“Everything here is judged on whether you win the World Series or not,” Girardi said. “That’s just the nature of the business, but I can tell you that these guys have given everything I could ask for.”
Associated Press photo