As fall creeps in, n the leaves change on the trees, it symbolically represents the transition from regular-season baseball, to the intense post-season race for a world championship.
There’s nothing like the late-season dramatics that build up to the start of the playoffs though and it can’t get much more dramatic for the New York Yankees. They already secured a spot in the fall classic, as did the Baltimore Orioles. But going down to tonight’s final game, the highly sought-after division crown is still up for grabs between the two teams. The reward is high, as whoever takes that title will have a position in the ALDS, the runner-up however, goes in as a wild-card. Even more is at stake for the wild-card team too due to the little twist added as there are two wild-card teams selected this year, who then dual it out in a one-game playoff which determines who gets to play in that ALDS series.
It was about a month or so ago that the Yankees sat comfortable atop a cushy ten-game lead in the AL East. All seemed to be perfectly in order in the Bronx. The Orioles looked to be slipping and letting go of contention, as was expected by most and the Bombers were hot in every aspect of the game. But after a few injuries, a slumping offense, and an unreliable bullpen, it left the door open for the Orioles to quietly creep back into the race and create all of this suspense.
Things are beginning to brighten up in the Bronx though, as certain things seem to be coming back together at the perfect time. Brett Gardner has been reactivated to the roster after missing pretty much the entire year and Mark Teixeira has been taking some swings back in the lineup. The pitching staff is back to their normal rotation again. The offense is starting to pick it back up as well, behind the hot bats of Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, and the Pinstripe’s undoubted MVP this season, Derek Jeter.
The “magic number” is one for the Yankees. One win for them or one loss for the Orioles crown them as the AL East champs. They control their own destiny though, so rather than rely on the outcome of the Baltimore game, they just need to focus “one” more team, battling it out for “one” more win. By taking care of that order of business they’ll be sitting much prettier for October baseball.
This is the time when you see what teams and players are made of. With plenty on the line, the pressure can either build up forcing them to buckle under it. Or it can bring out the best in them as they leave it all on the field. Tonight’s results will show a lot about what the Yankees are made of. They’ve made it this far after facing a lot of unanticipated adversity along the way, but it didn’t stop them and they’ve only “one” more game to take it “one” step closer to the ultimate goal.