The Yankees are 3.5 games out of the Wild-Card with 32 games left to play

Mariano Rivera sculpture from the Rays. It doesn't look like him.

Mariano Rivera sculpture from the Rays. It doesn’t look like him.

The Yankees lost two out of three games to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend at Tropicana Field.  However, after their 3-2 win on Sunday led by Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Ivan Nova, they are now once again 3.5 games behind the second Wild-Card spot. The Oakland Athletics lost to the Baltimore Orioles causing the Yankees to move up in the standings.

Last night’s win was a big one because the Yankees can’t afford to lose three games in a row for the rest of the season. It was even more important since they were able to gain ground after Oakland’s loss and their extra-inning win.

The Yankees won in dramatic fashion as Curtis Granderson hit a sacrifice fly to deep center that scored Alfonso Soriano in the top of the eleventh, and Mariano Rivera retired the side in order in the bottom of the eleventh for his final save at Tropicana Field. Soriano truly did all he could to score the run that put the Yankees ahead as he doubled and then recorded a clutch steal of third. If the Yankees end up getting a Wild-Card, Soriano’s steal of third could be a key play that pushed the Yankees over the hump.

Granderson made an outstanding catch to end the game in foul territory to allow Rivera to record his 38th save of the season and his 646th save of his Hall of Fame career.

Ivan Nova gave the Yankees a much needed solid start. He only allowed two runs in 6.2 innings, which is much better than his last start where he allowed four runs in 6.1 innings. The one negative is that he walked a season-high six batters (one intentional) in the start against the Rays, which is a number he obviously wants to avoid the rest of the season, but he showed the ability to get out of jams as he has many times previously. Overall, Nova has been the team’s second best starter this season after Hiroki Kuroda.

Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a much needed offensive lift during the afternoon game inside The Trop. Cano was 3-5 with a homer that went just over the wall in left and an RBI double. He drove in two of the team’s three runs and leads the team in homers and RBI. In his last seven games, Cano has recorded two homers and eight RBI.

Another positive offensively was that Soriano had two hits in five at-bats. He had only had two hits in his previous 27 at-bats, which makes it important that his two-hit game is the start of an offensive hot streak. It is hard to really take away from Soriano because he was on fire before this cold streak, but the Yankees surely need Soriano to be an offensive catalyst against the Blue Jays and Orioles in the coming week. (This is not all that surprising because Soriano has been a hot and cold hitter throughout a career, but one who really has the power to carry a team for prolonged stretches.)

The Yankees are 12-1 against the Blue Jays so far this season. It is important that they continue that dominance by sweeping the last place Blue Jays so that they can go into the Orioles series with momentum and make up ground on Oakland.

A positive sign for the Yankees is that their captain, Derek Jeter, will make his return to the team for the third time. Hopefully after playing three games for the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders he will be back for good. Eduardo Nunez, who has shown some flashes this season, will now go back to his more suitable back-up srole.

The schedule will allow the Yankees to have an opportunity to make up the 3.5 games because they have 15 games against last place teams (Toronto, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros) and the rest of their games are against teams that are ahead of them in the division.

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