After the second walk-off win in a row, against the Oakland Athletics, for the Yankees, they will be able to look ahead at the schedule to know that they should be able to hang and win the AL East. After tomorrow’s matinee game against the second place A’s, their remaining seven games are against the Toronto Blue Jays and Minnesota Twins, who are a combined 40.5 games out of first place.
The Yankees have now won seven games in a row and their current winning streak has been highlighted by late game heroics by Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin. Ibanez, who was only 1-19 before today’s marathon game, produced a much needed 3-4 performance, with two homers and three RBI. On Friday night, Russell Martin, who has been somewhat of a feast or famine player recently, hit the game winner in the 10th after failing to get on base in his previous three at bats.
Friday’s game against Oakland would not have needed a Martin long ball in extra innings if it were not for Rafael Soriano wasting a dominating outing by ace CC Sebathia. After being somewhat inconsistent recently, Sebathia’s 11 strikeout, zero earned run performance is one that Yankee fans know he is capable of.
Soriano has been a very reliable replacement for the Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, since it was only his fourth blow save, while his 42 saves and 2.10 ERA make up for allowing the game to go into extra frames.
The good news is that the Yankees will not have to face a team like the Athletics, who have been playing above their talent level, and have been one of the best surprise stories of baseball, for the rest of the season. The Blue Jays and Twins are both not playing for anything while being out of the playoff race for most of the season. The Yankees will need to capitalize on these inferior opponents.
The Yankees currently own a one game lead over the surging Baltimore Orioles. The Bronx Bombers are currently clicking on all cylinders after going 9-1 in their last 10 games while the O’s, led by Buck Showalter, have won eight of their last 10 contests.
The Yankees should not accept anything less than winning six of their last eight games. I could see them losing the game to the A’s on Sunday, who are currently tied with the O’s for the Wild Card, and then also losing a game to their division foe, the Blue Jays.
If I had to pick a game for them to lose it would be when Ricky Romero is pitching. Romero, who has been Toronto’s ace the past few years, has struggled in 2012, but has a history of pitching well against the Yankees. If my prediction is accurate the Yankees would end the season with a 94-65 record.
The Orioles also end the season against teams that are basically playing out the string. They have four games left against the Red Sox and three against the Blue Jays. I can see the Orioles winning six of their last eight games. I would have left the number at five, but I could see the Red Sox resting their starters to try and help the Orioles win the division instead of the Yankees.
The Yankees will need to continue to have unsung and under-performing players step up in their remaining games to help them come away with six or more wins. Those six wins would give the Yankees a 94-65 record, and if the Orioles also win six more games, the Yanks would win the AL East by one game.