Robinson Cano and the Yankees have a tough task in September–get into the wild card race anyway they can
The Yankees have 29 games left this season, and they gained a half game yesterday without playing a game (thanks Angels and Tigers). As the Baltimore Orioles come into town this weekend, the schedule for the Yankees in September will tell them just how much of a playoff contending team they are. Here’s a preview of the September calendar, and where the Yankees could stand at the end of the month.
August 30 – September 1
Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees
The Baltimore Orioles pitching is a bit sketchy, but they can survive sketchy pitching with their lineup. With the power bat of Chris Davis and the ability for the rest of team to scratch out runs, the Yankees are in for the fight of their life this weekend. This series won’t be easy but the Yankees have added Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano should he be well enough to play at some point this weekend. The Yankees need to at least take two out of three in this series, which means that CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova need to step up and pitch well (Nova has done that this season, the sentence was more for Hughes and Sabathia). Also a word of advice, if the Yankees want a chance to take the series, I’d suggest taking Hughes out of the rotation and put David Huff to start instead. Just because David Huff combined with his last two outings had pitched a full game giving up no runs and one hit. I’d sign up for that instead of home runs and runs from Hughes.
September 2 – September 4
Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees
The last time these two teams faced one another, the White Sox swept the Yankees in three games. This time it should be a bit different since we didn’t have any power bats in our lineup at the time (minus Robinson Cano). This White Sox team is a bit different since they gave up a lot of their key players during the season to contending teams, so it should be an easier battle this time around. If all goes according to plan, the best case scenario would be to take two out of three. I’d be greedy saying I want the sweep, but hey…don’t we all?
September 5 – September 8
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
The Red Sox and Yankees were the highlight of ESPN baseball two weeks ago when the Red Sox woke up the Yankees after an intentionally pitch to Alex Rodriguez hit him in his ribs. This time it’s a four game set at Yankee Stadium and the Red Sox will have to face off against the Yankees once again. The Yankees took two out of three last time due to great pitching and timely hitting. The Yankees need to have the same formula coming into the series. The keys to this series: keep Jacoby Ellsbury off base since he’s the Red Sox version of Brett Gardner and find a way to get David Ortiz out anyway they can. (As of the morning of August 30, Ortiz has been in a slump going 0 for his last 23). This series is crucial. The Yankees need to at least take two out of the four games.
September 9 – September 12
New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
The Yankees go from one four game series to another four game series, this time traveling to Camden Yards for this four game set vs. the Orioles. Keys to the rest of the Orioles series is simple: Don’t give them anything to hit, especially Chris Davis. One mistake and it could go out to Eutaw street faster than you can say “Mariano Rivera“. Which means I strongly advise Joe Girardi to again not play Phil Hughes. Don’t know how many times I’m going to have to say this.
September 13 – September 15
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
After the Orioles series, the Yankees go to Boston and play another series at Fenway. Yep, same old same old Yankees vs. Red Sox. But this has more on the line for the Yankees than it does for the Red Sox. Let’s just say find a way to stop the Red Sox bats, score some runs, take two out of three and get the heck out of there? Sound good? Good.
September 17 – September 19
New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays
The Yankees go to Canada to play the Toronto Blue Jays in their final showdown this season. The Yankees have owned the Blue Jays this season, minus the most recent series where the Blue Jays took two out of three from the Yankees. Well, the Yankees will be looking for a vengeance. Key to this series: Keep the power hitters at bay, don’t walk Jose Reyes and Rajai Davis–and try to get to the Blue Jays pitching. The Yankees have the discipline to do so and have proved it in the past.
September 20 – September 22
San Francisco Giants vs. New York Yankees
All right, who made this schedule? An interleague game at the end of the year? Anyway, back to the topic at hand: The Giants this year–aren’t very good (and that’s an understatement). The Yankees could have themselves a two out of three series (or maybe a sweep) if the Yankees run into bad pitching, which the Giants have had this season. Well, we don’t know when the Giants will come back to Yankee Stadium so we might as well enjoy this series (that and we could see how starstruck the players get when they run into Mariano Rivera).
September 24 – September 26
Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees
The final series at Yankee Stadium for the 2013 season is against the Tampa Bay Rays who have the pitching to get them where they need to be if they make the first wild card spot. The keys to this series is simple: Don’t give any of the power hitters (and there are some power hitters) anything good to hit. That includes Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce…you get the picture. It’s also important to stay patient with the pitchers. You never know when you can get into their bullpen which has had an up and down year.
September 27 – September 29
New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
The final series of the season takes the Yankees to Texas, but not to face the Rangers. Instead, they will face the Houston Astros. Honestly, if the Yankees can’t sweep the Astros, then we don’t deserve to be contending. The Houston Astros are a minor league team in the Major Leagues, and that’s me putting it as nicely as I can. Depending where the Yankees are in the wild card standings at this point in the season, this series is important. This series could make or break the chances of getting into the playoffs if the race is that close in the end.