Friday, September 28, 2012
Bad Night, But Still In the Driver's Seat
Or maybe, considering yesterday's discussion, instead of "unleashing," I should have said "uncorking."
Ivan Nova started, and he didn't have much. The Jays scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning and 2 more in the 5th to knock him out of the box (12-8). Not that it mattered, because the Yankees only got 5 hits off Brandon Morrow (9-7): 3 by Robinson Cano and 2 by Russell Martin (who pushed his batting average all the way up to .209).
So, here's where things stand in the American League Eastern Division, with 6 games to go:
* The Yankees are 90-66.
* The Baltimore Orioles are 89-67, trailing by 1 game with 6 to play. The Yankees' number to eliminate them from the race is 6: Any number of Yankee wins and Oriole losses adding up to 6 will clinch the Division for the Yankees.
* The Tampa Bay Rays are 86-70, 4 games back. The number to eliminate them is 3, although they are on an 8-game winning streak that has seriously helped their bid for at least a Wild Card berth.
* The Jays and the Boston Red Sox are both 69-87, 21 games out, and neither was ever a fact this season. It was a 3-team race by the end of April, and, at least theoretically, it still is a 3-team race, and neither the Sox nor the Jays were one of those teams.
Essentially, the Yankees have to match the Orioles' performance over the last 6 games of the regular season: If the Yankees go 0-6, they can't win the Division unless the O's also go 0-6, because the O's going 1-5 would produce a tie for 1st place. There will not be a Playoff in the event of a tie. The 1st tiebreaker is head-to-head competition, and that's they split their 18 meetings this season, 9-9. The 2nd tiebreaker is intradivisional record, and the Yankees are 36-30 vs. the other AL East teams thus far, while the O's are 39-27. The Yanks going 0-6 and the O's going 1-5 would leave the Yanks at 36-36 while the O's would be 40-32, and the O's would win the Division. Even if the O's also go 0-6, the Rays are still in the mix, but in these circumstances they would have to go 4-2. If the Yankees go 1-5, they can't win the Division unless the O's also go 1-5. And so on.
Looking at it the other way: If the Yanks go 6-0, it doesn't matter what the O's do. If the Yanks go 5-1, the O's would have to go 6-0. If the Yanks go 4-2, the O's would have to go 5-1. And if the Yanks split the last 6, the O's would have to go 4-2.
The Yankees had a 10-game Division lead on July 18, and still led by 5 as late as August 19, but blew it. Yet, with 6 games left, the Yankees are still in the driver's seat. Or, if you really want to make the Cliche Meter ring, the Yankees control their own destiny. Every time they win over the next 6 days, the O's can get no closer.