By the Numbers: The Yankees' Homestretch
With 16 games to go, the Yankees hold a half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles (and are five up on the Tampa Bay Rays) in the AL East, and the race for the division title appears as if it will go down to the wire. Jon Lane has a look at the contenders' remaining schedules and how the postseason would shake out if it began today, and we go By The Numbers to take a look at some of the factors that will come into play for the Yankees over the next two-and-a-half weeks, as well as some milestones that the Bombers can hit in that time.
10: Of the 16 games left for the Yankees, 10 of them will be against the American League East; the Bombers have three each at home against the Blue Jays (Tuesday-Thursday) and Red Sox (Oct. 1-3), and will play a four-game set in Toronto Sept. 27-30.
33-29: The Bombers’ current record within the AL East is 33-29, which is technically 3 ½ games “behind” Baltimore’s 35-24 record (the Orioles have 13 AL East games remaining, so both teams will end with 72). Division records will become important if the Yankees and O’s tie for the AL East; in that case, because the teams finished the season series in a 9-9 tie, the first tiebreaker to determine which team would host a one-game playoff for the division title would be…you guessed it, record within the AL East.
3: The Yankees have three full turns with the rotation left to go, with perhaps one pitcher getting a fourth start in the final 16 games. If that all comes to fruition, the Yankees will have four pitchers that made 28 or more starts – not a bad total for a team that has seen three starters spend time on the disabled list and a fourth banished from the rotation twice.
0: The Yankees’ final off day is Monday, meaning that they will play 16 days in a row (and possibly up to 18 depending on ties and/or wild-card stature) before they know their true playoff fates. However…
100: …there is a 100 percent chance of rain in New York City on Tuesday night, meaning the first game of the Yanks-Jays series – and Andy Pettitte’s return – could be in jeopardy. If that game were to be postponed, a doubleheader would likely be scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, which would also likely mean a change to the aforementioned rotation schedule.
3-4: One of the Yankees’ non-AL East series is against the Twins, as they will travel to Minnesota for a three-game set next Monday-Wednesday. That series is set to feature the two men who as of Monday were third and fourth in the AL in average: Derek Jeter (3rd, .323) and Joe Mauer (4th, .321).
1: In addition to having a half-game lead over the Orioles, the Yankees also have a one-game “deficit” or sorts, in that their record is one game behind the 84-62 Athletics. The A’s are the wild card leaders, and with Oakland coming to Yankee Stadium for a three-game set this weekend, the Bombers have a great chance to play spoiler of sorts and help their own cause in terms of playoff possibilities.
39: Curtis Granderson has 39 home runs this season, and his next will make him the first Yankee to have back-to-back 40 home run seasons since Jason Giambi hit 41 in both 2002 and 2003.
199: Derek Jeter has a Major League-leading 199 hits this season, and his next would give him his eighth season of 200 or more hits, tying Lou Gehrig’s club record. Beyond that record, Jeter is also looking to become the first Yankee since Alfonso Soriano in 2002 to lead MLB in hits, a feat that would also make The Captain the first player in franchise history to do that twice (Jeter led MLB with 219 hits in 1999 as well).
40: Rafael Soriano reached 40 saves on Sunday, becoming just the fourth Yankee since 1969 to hit that milestone. He has moved up to 12th on the franchise’s all-time saves list, and with two more this season, he will pass the duo or Ryne Duren and Luis Arroyo (who each of 43) to take over sole possession of a spot in the Top 10.
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