Yankees would need a miracle to win the AL East now
The problem with fantasies is it requires such little reality to ruin them.
That’s this week’s One to Grow On in The Bronx.
Remember that time we spent wondering whether the Yankees could overtake the Red Sox in the American League East? You can stop wondering for the moment.
With their 4-1 loss to the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, and with the Red Sox finding a safe harbor in the form of Derek Jeter’s Marlins, whom they defeated by a 14-6 margin, the Yankees (84-49) trail the Red Sox (92-42) by 7 ¹/₂ games — seven in the loss column — in the division, which means they have lost control of their destiny once again. They had regained it Aug. 25 in Baltimore after initially falling into the danger zone on Aug. 3.
“It’s part of the game,” said Gleyber Torres, who wound up running into the game’s most memorable out. “We win sometimes. We lose sometimes. But we’ve got a month to go.”
With 29 games left, the Yankees, even with reinforcements on the way, hardly look poised to mount the epic run it would likely take to pass the Bosox. If they duplicated their impressive 20-9 finish from 2017, Boston would have to go 11-17 for the Yankees to win outright.
In this heat wave, with a first-pitch temperature of 93 degrees, the Yankees appeared tired — in need of a day off or, short of that, some more games with the horrendous Orioles. They managed only six hits, one of them (Greg Bird’s third-inning double) for extra bases, and a pair of walks against underwhelming White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez and two relievers. They went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, and they botched a bases-loaded one-out situation in the fifth when Brett Gardner struck out and, with Giancarlo Stanton at bat, Torres got thrown out trying to advance on a Lopez pitch that got behind Chisox catcher Kevan Smith.
On the surface, it looked bad to take the bat out of Stanton’s hands, but with two outs and the ball traveling to the backstop, it constituted a no-brainer. Aaron Boone ardently defended Torres’ decision, noting the flukiness of Smith’s sidearm throw that sailed perfectly into Lopez’s glove. Besides, Stanton hasn’t been lighting it up recently, anyway.
What really fired up Boone, in any case, was a question about dropping this three-game series to the White Sox, who are now 53-80, although they’ve won 11 of 15.
“I walk in there pissed off every night when we lose,” the rookie manager responded. “… I don’t get caught up in the opponent.”
This series, the first won by the White Sox here since 2005, made everyone a little edgy. Boone, whose postgame news conferences typically could air on the Disney Channel, used “crappy” and “pissed off” two days apart. Losing pitcher CC Sabathia, whose cap dripped sweat as he labored in a two-run second inning, appeared atypically curt as he answered a few questions afterward.
Perhaps the weekend’s forecasted cooldown will help. Or maybe the Yankees’ long-awaited reinforcements will bring good cheer. Gary Sanchez’s return from the disabled list is imminent, and Didi Gregorius shouldn’t be far behind Sanchez in rejoining the Yankees’ lineup.
While Aaron Judge’s timeline is far hazier and more worrisome for the team, the Yankees could trade for a veteran outfielder by the midnight Friday night deadline to acquire players eligible for your postseason roster, as The Post’s Joel Sherman reported.
The Yankees have posted a 16-7 record in their Summer Siesta, which concludes with the upcoming four-game set against the lowly Tigers. The A’s, their top challenger for home-field advantage in the AL wild-card game, have been hit hard by pitching injuries this week.
So all is hardly lost for these Yankees. The AL East, though? If it’s not altogether lost, it’ll be awfully difficult for the Yankees to find it.
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