The New York Yankees (88–58) begin a crucial series against the Baltimore Orioles (58–88) this weekend in Baltimore after falling from MLB’s No.1 spot on Wednesday to their AL East Division rivals the Tampa Bay Rays.
Wednesday’s bitter 4–3 loss against the now division-leading Rays (88–57) came off the bat of Dan Johnson, who blasted a pair of two-run homers in the fifth and seventh innings to twice erase a one-run Yankees lead.
“There’s no question, we want to win the division,” Alex Rodriguez told AP after Wednesday’s loss. “We know what home field advantage means. We saw what it did for us last year.”
But the Yankees record over the last two weeks doesn’t bode well for the pinstripes as the final two weeks of the regular season grind down. The Yankees have gone a miserable 2–10.
They dropped the Rays series 2–1 (winning the second game) after suffering their first three-game sweep of the season against the Texas Rangers. Thus the Yankees lost four games in a row for the first time this season.
Prior to that, the Yankees almost had the dubious distinction of giving the Orioles, the AL East bottom feeders, their first three-game series sweep in the Bronx since 1986. A come-from-behind two-run homer by Nick Swisher in the bottom of the ninth luckily stopped that from occurring.
“We could have very easily won five of these games,” New York manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday. “Sometimes you get the big hits, sometimes you don’t.”
So now the Yankees face the Orioles again before they head into what will surely be a grueling final stretch with a four-game series against the Rays, three-game series against the Boston Red Sox, and another three-gamer against the Toronto Blue Jays—there will be no days of rest.
The good news is that the Yankees have earned themselves a six-game cushion for at least a wild card berth.
Baltimore has won 9 of their last 11 games and just finished off a three-game sweep of the big-hitting Blue Jays. The Yankees can take nothing for granted.