The Yankees have not won the AL East since 2012, and they will have to wait at least another year to try to do it again. Boston won the division for the third consecutive year last night, all but now confirming that they will also be the top seed in the American League.
With that, the Yankees now have a minuscule 1.5 game lead for the top Wild Card spot over the A’s, right after the latter demoralized the Angels in what was arguably the most lopsided game this season.
Ten games remain for the Yankees, and the Athletics have nine left. The Yankees must face the Orioles, who are on pace to tie the 1935 Boston Braves for the fourth-most losses (115) in the modern era; then they face a Rays team that has not only won nine of its last 13 games but is also 8-7 against the Yankees this year. After that, they face the Red Sox for the final series of the regular season at Fenway, where the Yankees have just a 1-6 record this year.
Oakland’s remaining schedule is far more lenient, even with the Yankees playing against Baltimore. The A’s will face the Twins, the Mariners, and then the Angels to conclude their regular season.
Regardless of how the rest of their games play out, the Yankees cannot afford to have to travel to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for the Wild Card game for two reasons. First and foremost, the Yankees are just 1-6 at the aforementioned Coliseum since last year, so that already does not bode well for them. Secondly, assuming they win the game in Oakland, that means the Yankees have to fly back across the country to begin the ALDS against Boston.
Granted, hosting the Wild Card game guarantees nothing. But it’s not out of the realm of reality to think it boosts the odds, considering the A’s themselves are 1-6 at Yankee Stadium since last year (notice the role reversal?).
The Yankees have had a propensity to make things more difficult than they should be this year. They can buck the trend by holding off the A’s and playing at Yankee Stadium on October 3rd.