Yankees will find out if they’re AL East contenders or pretenders

Masahiro Tanaka 21

For the last six weeks, the Yankees had played teams outside the American League East division, including wrapping up a long West Coast trip where the Yankees finished 5-4. However, the Yankees real test lies starting this week as they’ll face opponents that they’re quite familiar with, considering they play them about 19 times a season.

Starting tomorrow, the Yankees will play three against the Toronto Blue Jays, then three against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will then fly to Toronto and play three games against the Blue Jays. After an off-day next Thursday, the Yankees will come back to the stadium and play three against the Boston Red Sox. Finally, the Yankees will play three games against the last place Tampa Bay Rays, but don’t be fooled: the Rays are able to beat the Yankees–just not the rest of baseball. If you caught the pattern here, the Yankees will play their American League East rivals for 13 games in the next 14 days, and it’s the Yankees ultimate test as to whether they’re contenders or pretenders this season.

“You don’t want to make too much of it, but it’s obviously an important period when you’re going to see the teams that we’re going to see,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s a huge stretch against East Coast teams. You have a chance to make up ground and put distance between other teams and yourself. I think it’s really important.”

The American League East race hasn’t been particularly close: the Blue Jays have a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees coming into this series, and the Yankees are in second place by half a game at this point. The Yankees are hoping they can get back on a hot streak and make the division a tight race, and they’d like to get the momentum rolling before the All-Star Break.

“Every stretch against AL East opponents is big, but it would be nice to take a couple series,” Yankees closer David Robertson said. “There’s definitely opportunity to separate yourself from the rest. You get hot, maybe mix in a sweep and win two or three series in a row, you can jump to the top.”

Luckily, the Yankees can get off to the right foot by sending out Masahiro Tanaka tomorrow night, who is 4-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his last four starts. The Blue Jays have seen Tanaka before, only becoming the second team to face him twice. But, the Yankees are going to need more than Tanaka to vault themselves to the top of the AL East division: they’re going to need everyone to click and get on a hot streak. The Yankees showed promise during their short four-game win streak on the West Coast; they’re going to need that luck again to outlast their opponents.

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3 Responses to Yankees will find out if they’re AL East contenders or pretenders

  1. Chris Duke says:

    REAL YANKEES FANS CAN ANSWER THAT FOR ANYONE WHO NEEDS TO KNOW………CONTENDERS DON'T PITCH AA PITCHERS (NUNO), STICK WITH HITTERS WHO BARELY HIT .225 (JOHNSON/ROBERTS/SORIANO), OR KEEP DISMAL, UNINSPIRING MANAGERS/COACHES. MY GUESS IS THEY WILL LOSE MANY MORE THAN THEY WIN IN THAT STRETCH AGAINST THE AL EAST. NUNO AND KURODA WILL GET SHELLED, PHELPS WILL LOSE FOCUS, AND MCCANN WILL GET ON TRACK AND RAKE! BUT THE DAMAGE OF KEVIN LONG, GIRARDI, AND LORD ROTHSCHILD WILL CONTINUE THE WEAK PERFORMANCES.

    • mlblogsnewyorkyankees13 says:

      The reason the Yankees keep sending out Nuno is because they don't have anyone else in the minor leagues to take that spot at this point. Yankees were lucky to find Chase Whitley, who has been good this year. If you were in Joe Girardi's position, who would you play off the bench? Johnson/Roberts/Soriano is what they have. And Girardi is one of the best managers in the game, despite what everyone thinks. If it weren't for him, with the run differential the Yankees have, they would be below .500. Nuno is what they have, Kuroda is getting older, Phelps is doing fine and McCann is in a three month slump. Unless he has a hot homestand I don't see him raking anytime soon.

    • dean47 says:

      What major league manager or coach makes winning a lock? Who provides the inspiration you refer to in the major leagues?

      If you don't like Girardi, who would you like? John Farrell? Joe Maddon? Terry Collins? Freddy Gonzales? Ron Washington? Ron Gardenhire? How are their teams doing? How are their historical track records?

      Since Rothschild is to "blame" for the pitchers when they struggle, does he get credit for Warren, Betances, Tanaka, Whitley, Phelps and Robertson?

      Who gets credit for this team perservering in the face of losing three of the opening day starters?

      If you must spout emotional, not well thought out opinions, be polite enough to not use the caps lock key.

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