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This is what it’s come to: a big September series against the Orioles

Who? What? Why? When? How? I find myself asking these questions night in and night out with this team. Our pitching was great? We only scored one run. Our offense came alive? Our high-leverage guys gave up ten runs in one inning to blow the lead. Our pitching and our offense were great? Someone made a big error or bonehead base running mistake. It just never ends. 

And because of this free-fall, the Yankees find themselves just 1.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles (one game in the loss column) for the final playoff spot in the American League. Yes, the same Baltimore Orioles who have lost 223 games over the past two seasons. The same Orioles the Yankees were 17-2 against last year. The Yankees lost 3 of 4 to the Orioles last weekend, and now with only 17 games remaining, they will be fighting for their playoff lives as the O’s come to the Bronx for four games. 

I am not one of those people who are now hoping that the team misses the playoffs because of how they have been playing. Of course I want them to make it. Nothing would warm my cold, dead heart more than making it in as the eighth seed and taking out the Rays in the first round. 

Additionally, when was the last time the best team record-wise won the World Series? Since 2017 (for sure) and 2018 (a tad) are questionable if you remove those two years, only the Red Sox in 2013 and the Cubs in 2016 had a top-three record in the entire league. That’s two out of 10. If you get in, you can win it all. Especially if we get guys such as Judge, Stanton, Urshela, and Paxton back (for the record, I think there was a typo from Stanton’s MRI — I think it is actually a Grade 11 hamstring strain rather than a Grade 1). 

Now that that’s out of my system, let’s look ahead to the upcoming series against Baltimore (Orioles’ probables beyond Thursday are not official).

Thursday (weather permitting)

Gerrit Cole (52.0 IP, 4-3, 3.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 12.12 K/9)

Keegan Akin (13.0 IP, 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.38 K/9)


Masahiro Tanaka (32.0 IP, 1-2, 3.38 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.16 K/9)

Dean Kremer (6.0 IP, 1-0, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 10.50 K/9)


Jordan Montgomery (28.1 IP, 2-2, 5.72 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7.31 K/9)

John Means (26.0 IP, 1-3, 6.58 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.88 K/9)


J.A. Happ (31.1 IP, 1-2, 4.31 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.18 K/9)

Jorge Lopez (18.2 IP, 1-0, 4.82 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 6.27 K/9)

Normally, the Yankees should be favored to win each of these games. Cole is supposed to be our stud ace. Tanaka, while inconsistent, can completely shut down a lineup when he’s on. And J.A. Happ has pitched very well (2.89 ERA over three starts) since he was upset with being skipped in the rotation.

The lineup is also still formidable on paper, even without Judge and Stanton. I know the past few weeks have told us otherwise, but a top five of LeMahieu, Voit, Hicks, Frazier, and Torres is not bad. Throw in Andujar who was been coming on of late and the lineup should be capable of scoring more than one run on a nightly basis. 

However, from what we have seen over the past few weeks, we know that our instinct that this team has turned the corner should never be trusted. But the Yankees pulled out a big victory last night thanks largely in part to 21-year-old rookie Deivi Garcia.

Let’s hope that victory is the one that finally gets us hot again. Coming home to face the Orioles is usually a good sign, but the players on the field will have to round back into form, and quickly. That means taking at least three out of four this weekend.