09 September 2013

Bronx Bums: 9/9 Report - Boston Massacre'd; Yet Still (Barely) Alive

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I didn't watch Sunday's game. Yeah, I admit it. I'm a bad Yankees' fan.

Can you blame me? After dropping three straight heartbreaking, nut-busting losses to the Red Sox, I made peace with the baseball gods and embraced the changing of the sports. Goodbye baseball. Hello football.

I was in full-blown NFL mania and sweating 14 different fantasy leagues and various pools and monitoring wagers and line moves. Most of Sunday afternoon, I was basking in the (rare) warm glow of a New York Jets victory. I totally forgot about the Yankees until my brother sent me a text: "Mo blew another save." I assumed the worst and had fleeting thoughts filled with cliches like, "Put a fork in them... they're done.... those Bronx Bums" or "The fat lady is singing... loudly." After losing their third straight game to Boston on Saturday, I figured that was the Red Sox hammering the last nails into the Yanks' postseason coffin.

Yanks' postseason hopes stayin' alive on a wild pitch

But then something happened... the Yanks stole a win. On a wild pitch of all plays. Mo got bailed out again. The Yanks stopped the bleeding and ended their losing streak. They ended this mismatched series against Boston on a positive note. What should have been their funeral was nothing more than a tough sweat because Tampa Rays were ensconced in their own nightmarish roadtrip. The Yanks ended the Boston series the same way they began it... three games behind Tampa for the second wild card spot.

Tampa went 3-7 on their West Coast swing and they're stuck in a crappy 4-11 stretch over their last 15 games. With a series against the Red Sox looming this week, the Yanks are in a prime spot to pick up a few games.

The Yanks bullpen struggled to hold leads. Losing David Robertson for a week to a bum shoulder (tendinitis) could not have come at a worse time. Mo Rivera looks more human-like than ever before. He blew two saves against the Sox, including a disappointing moment on Thursday night when Mo was one strike away from putting the Sox away, but they rallied to tie the game and then win in extra innings.

The Yanks' bats were alive this series and produced 25 runs in the first three games, but the pitching was atrocious, particularly the bullpen. I saw a stat on Twitter that for the first time in the history of baseball... a team scored 8 runs three games in a row and lost all three. The last time the Yanks allowed nine runs or more in three consecutive games was in the high altitude of Denver when the Yanks got pummeled by the Colorado Rockies back in 2002.

CoolStandings.com puts the Yankees postseason hopes at 10%. That's much better than I thought. I have them around 5%. CoolStandings also has Tampa at almost 49% to win the last wild card spot, while Baltimore has a 13.6% chance. So Tampa is a coinflip, while the Yanks are a 1 in 10 shot.

You have three AL East teams (Tampa, Baltimore, and the Yanks) jockeying for position for the second and last wild card spot, with two AL Central teams (Cleveland and the Kansas City Royals, who are still mathematically eligible). The A's (83-60) are currently ahead in the AL West, which means Texas (81-61) has the first wild card slot. Even if those two continue to flip-flop, whomever finished second in the AL West will most likely have the first wild card spot and whomever finishes second in the AL East will secure the second wild card, unless Cleveland (29% chance according to CoolStandings.com) can make a late run and steal the last spot away from Tampa-Balt-Yanks.

The MLB suits adding a second wild card was a wise choice because it makes all of these September divisional games worth something. Rest assured, I won't punk out like I did on Sunday and dismiss the Yanks. Those Bronx Bums still have a fighting chance. Whether it is 5% or 10% doesn't matter. They have to take each game as a single-elimination playoff battle. No more mistakes. No more mental errors. No more fat pitches (I'm looking at you Mo!).
WILD CARD STANDINGS - AL
TEXAS  81-61 (.570)  --
TAMPA 78-64 (.549)  --
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CLEVELAND 76-66 (.535) 2 GB  
BALTIMORE 76-66 (.535) 2 GB    
NY YANKEES 76-67 (.531) 2.5 GB
KANSAS CITY 75-68 (.524) 3.5 GB

On Deck: Do or die for the Yankees (76-67) this week. The Yanks (32-36 in away games) hit the road for 10 games. No days off this week. They take on Baltimore (76-66) for a four-game series then head up to Fenway for a three-game weekend series against the Sox, before they fly north of the border for a three-game stint against the Blue Jays. With seven games against Baltimore and Boston this week, the Yanks have a chance to pull ahead of Baltimore in this AL East-centric wild card race and pick up much-needed games against Tampa, who has a difficult three-game homestand with Boston, but then Tampa finally catches a breather with a series against the lowly Minnesota Twins.

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