They have 22 games remaining against teams currently fighting for playoff spots. Those are pretty cut-and-dry opportunities to take hold of their own destiny. Beat up on teams like the Blue Jays and Royals — and the Orioles, if you’re thinking the division is still in play — and the Yankees can assure themselves of making up ground or building some breathing room.
But before they square off against the contenders, the Yankees can seize a different sort of opportunity this week. Their next six games are all at Yankee Stadium against the Astros and White Sox, two sub-.500 teams that should offer an opportunity to win games in bunches and perhaps build some much-needed momentum.
“I think every week is a big week from here on out,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have six weeks left. Every week is big.”
Fair enough. The Yankees can’t simply beat up on the little guys down the stretch. They’re going to have to win some of those games against contending teams as well. Need to win most of those games, actually. Just to reach 90 wins — a total that wouldn’t have been enough for a playoff spot last season — the Yankees need to go 27-13 the rest of the way.
That means doing a lot more than simply taking advantage of these next three games against Houston.
As the players packed their things for Sunday’s flight back to New York, both Mark Teixeira and Dave Robertson went so far as to say they had no idea which teams were next on the schedule. Said it didn’t really matter. This team needs to win regardless of who’s in the other dugout.
“It doesn’t matter what their records are,” Robertson said. “Any team that plays us is going to play us hard and try to win every ball game. For us, you’ve got to take every game seriously. There’s no slacking off at this point in the season. You’ve got to come to the field prepared and ready to play and grind out a win no matter how you do it.”
Associated Press photo