(Long Island, NY) Having the third-best record in baseball and being a mere game out of first place in your division is nothing to lose any sleep over. Besides the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox, the Yankees (48-34) are right up there with the best of the bunch.
But ask any of the players in the clubhouse and they will be the first to admit that the team has yet to play their best baseball. “[As a team], I don’t think that we have reached our full potential, but it’s still early in the season and we feel good about ourselves,” said Nick Swisher, who has hit .242 with 14 home runs, 18 doubles and 43 RBI his first season in the Bronx after being acquired in an off-season trade with the Chicago White Sox.
Swisher had been a super-sub, filling in at first base and the outfield, before taking over right field for the injured Xavier Nady. Speaking of injuries, all teams around the league have had their fair share and the Yankees have been no exception. Besides Nady, chronologically since the start of the season, Alex Rodriguez, Chien-Ming Wang, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jorge Posada and Jose Molina all have either spent time or are currently on the disabled list. Wang was recently placed on the 15-day DL again and the ace of the staff the past few seasons has been a bitter disappointment this year at 1-6.
Wang did lose one game out of the eight straight the Yankees have dropped to Boston this year, with seven different pitchers being on the losing end of the others. That has been the biggest thorn in the Bombers’ side in a season where they have had spurts where they look like champions and others when they look as if they will be on the outside looking in come October.
Back in April, the Sox swept a three-game set at Fenway Park and repeated that feat in June. They also took a two-game set at Yankee Stadium in May.
The Yankees were the picture of inconsistency at two games under .500 shortly after that Boston series when they turned their season around by running off nine wins in a row. That put them right up there with a 24-17 record and gave them the confidence that they needed and to quiet the critics who were beginning to say once again that an All-Star at nearly every position does not necessarily make a World Series champion.
They have gone, interestingly enough, 24-17 since then and have looked like a playoff team more than they have not. One hurdle still remains to show their fans and themselves that they can beat the Red Sox.
Looking for redemption and the top spot in the division, the Yankees have seven games in August against their bitter rivals, the first four at home. The season may very well come down to the last weekend in September when the Sox come to New York for three games.