Here’s the Yankees remaining schedule, basically divided into road trips and home stands that seem to take on individual identities based on what the Yankees need to accomplish with each set of games.
CHANCE TO PICK ON THE LITTLE GUYS
vs. Houston Astros
vs. Chicago White Sox
When the Yankees return to Yankee Stadium this week, it’s to play six games against two of the worst teams in baseball. This is the easiest part of the schedule that the Yankees have left. They’re playing at home — where they’ve been significantly better in the second half — and they’re playing two teams that should be infinitely beatable. That said, the Yankees lost two of three in Houston earlier this season, and they settle for a four-game split at U.S. Cellular. Need to do better when those teams come to New York.
CHANCE TO MAKE UP GROUND IN THE WILD CARD
at Kansas City Royals
at Detroit Tigers
at Toronto Blue Jays
A makeup game in Kansas City starts a road trip that also runs through Detroit and Toronto. Most years, this might be little more than a week-long buildup to a September showdown against the Red Sox. This year, it’s a golden opportunity to do something against three of the teams that are currently ahead of the Yankees in the fight for the second wild card (granted, right now it’s hard to tell whether the Royals or the Tigers are more of a wild card hurdle). The Yankees beat up on the Tigers at home last week. Would be helpful to do the same in Detroit.
THE LONG HOME STAND
vs. Boston Red Sox
vs. Kansas City Royals
vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Rosters will expand on a Monday, and the following Tuesday the Yankees will begin a nine-game, 10-day home stand. It’s kind of a strange bundle of teams coming to town, beginning with a Red Sox series, then a weekend set against those dangerous Royals, then an off day followed by the Rays last New York trip of the year. I suppose this should be seen as a chance to once again take advantage of lesser teams — for a change it’s the Red Sox and Rays being the lesser teams, not the Royals — but I doubt anyone would take the Sox or Rays for granted. Could very well be that, by September, those two teams will be trying out some younger guys. Not sure that’s a good thing for the Yankees.
THE ROAD TRIP RE-DO
at Baltimore Orioles
at Tampa Bay Rays
This is basically a repeat of the most recent road trip, beginning with a doubleheader on September 12 that’s being used as the makeup date for Tuesday’s rain out. If the Yankees still have any chance at the division by this point, those four games in Baltimore could be high-noon for the season. That’s either a vital showdown or the kind of series that could completely wipe out the Yankees chances. Because of the doubleheader, the Yankees will play day games all three days in Baltimore before heading to Tampa Bay for three straight night games. The Yankees have to hope that Baltimore series is a big one. If it’s not, it’s surely for all the wrong reasons.
DEREK JETER’S FINAL GAMES IN NEW YORK?
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Baltimore Orioles
The Yankees didn’t make the playoffs last season, but their final home stand was still incredibly memorably because of the Mariano Rivera farewell. Will this season bring more of the same, with the Yankees saying goodbye to Derek Jeter as their wrapping up an unsuccessful season? At the very least it would feel a little more appropriate if these games meant something. These are each four-game series, so it’s a pretty long home stand with no off days mixed in. And because of the doubleheader, the Yankees will also be in the middle of playing 21 games in their final 20 days of the season. This final stretch is going to be a grind one way or the other. Just have to hope it’s not all ceremonial.
END OF THE REGULAR SEASON, OR SIMPLY THE END OF THE SEASON?
at Boston Red Sox
The Yankees schedule was set long before Jeter announced that this would be his final season. I’m sure if Major League Baseball had its way, it would like to have Jeter wrap up his final season by playing at home. But if that’s not going to happen, I suppose finishing at Fenway is the next best thing. At the very least it’s going to be an interesting way to go out. The question is, is this simply the way Jeter will wrap up his final regular season, or is this the way he’ll finish his career. It would be amazing to see the Yankees go into Boston with something on the line, needing to play well to lock up a playoff spot. These games might be focused strictly on Jeter. Or they might be focused strictly on Jeter trying to make the playoffs one last time.
Associated Press photos