By Eddie Castro
There is just a month and a half left in the baseball season, and the division races in the American and National leagues are heating up. As expected, the Yankees are right in the middle of things in the American League. With a five-game lead in the AL East, the Yankees must continue their phenomenal play as October is right around the corner. Captain Derek Jeter said “We like where we are right now but we know we can improve each and every game, there’s no reason for us to get too comfortable, we still have to go out and win these games.” The Yankees currently have the best record in the AL at 72-49, and the second best overall in the majors (Washington Nationals 75-46). History has always indicated that the Yankees are a very good August and September team, and with the success the Yankees have had they hope to make a strong playoff push this year.
It has been an up-and-down year for the Bombers health wise. On offense, they’ve lost the speedster Brett Gardner for the season due to an elbow injury, and Alex Rodriguez has been sidelined with a broken hand he suffered nearly 5 weeks ago after being hit by a pitch by Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez. Gardner provides speed, and speed has been a need in the Yankee offense especially on the bases. As for A-Rod, even though he may not be the sensational superstar he once was a few years back, he still can play a solid third base, and his bat can still be a threat in the lineup come the postseason. He is expected back late this month.
With Gardner and Rodriguez out, the Yankee offense still has managed to do what they do best: hit homers. As a team they have hit 189 home runs, the best in baseball. The pitching rotation hasn’t been too shabby of late either. Their ace C.C. Sabathia is currently in his 2nd stint on the disabled list, Andy Pettitte has been out since mid-July with a broken ankle. Not to worry, a pitcher has stepped up. Pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has been hotter than a fox in a forest fire since the all-star break, posting a 4-1 record with a 1.98 era in seven starts. During that time frame, opposing batters have hit just .213 against him. With Sabathia out, he has clearly been the Yankees’ best pitcher. At 37, he may not have prime years in him, but the Yankees love what he’s bringing to them now. Another player to highlight is Derek Jeter. At 38, he leads the league in hits. Curtis Granderson is using the “short porch” to his advantage as he is currently 2nd in baseball in home runs at 32.
With Sabathia and Pettitte on their way back, the role players must continue their roles. It is almost safe to say that the Yankees have the formula to make it to the World Series. They added speed now with Ichiro Suzuki in pinstripes, and Nick Swisher has been red-hot in the month of August. If all goes well it could be another parade this October in midtown. The Yankees have not made the World Series since 2009 when they won it all. In 2010 they were beat up by the Texas Rangers, and last year they were embarrassed in a first-round meeting against the Detroit Tigers. It will be no surprise on their way to the fall classic that those two teams will be right there waiting for them.
Sports Notes: (Football) The Giants and Jets continue to get their reps in during the pre-season. The Giants have shown signs of greatness and that there will be no championship hangover this year. Both Jets quarterbacks have struggled so far in the pre-season. Both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow had long nights against a Giants defense who sacked them a combined 7 times. (Baseball); The Mets look to get it together as they wrap up a 4-game set against the Colorado Rockies, then welcome the Houston Astros. The Yankees Visit the Cleveland Indians today to open a 3-game set.
World Series Bound?