The Yankees are in first place, and yes I understand it’s April 17th, so make fun of me all you want for scoreboard watching before tax day. Yet as I mentioned earlier in the week when context is considered, we should be pumped that the Yankees are at the top of the AL East standings. Seven of their nine games have been against good teams that are division rivals while Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay have had significantly easier schedules to start the season. Games in April count just as much as games in September and the Yankees’ formidable competition all had a good opportunity to jump out in front but none did.
Yet also as I said earlier in the week, that’s why this series with Baltimore is so crucial. The Yankees held serve by going 4-3 against good teams, but that won’t matter too much in the season’s final standings if they don’t bully the bad teams. A sweep would have been ideal but no one will complain about a win today which would give them two out of three on the weekend.
Looking past today, how the next few weeks play out may go a long way toward determining the Yankees’ place in the AL East standings at season’s end. The Bombers have a really good opportunity to separate themselves from the pack, and my guess is if they don’t, we’ll be ruminating about this upcoming stretch in September.
Toronto’s next 13 games are against Boston and Houston. The Red Sox’s next 10 games after tomorrow’s Patriot’s Day tilt are against the Blue Jays and the Rays. The Rays meanwhile have three against Boston then spend the rest of April playing mediocre teams.
The Yanks? Their next 13 games are against Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, and Kansas City. That’s a big opportunity to push further ahead of Toronto, Boston, and Tampa Bay as they all more or less beat up on each other for the next few weeks. (And hopefully, some of the mediocre teams can do us a favor and split their games with the Rays.)
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – one game at a time, right? Today the Yanks send Nestor Cortes Jr. to the mound looking to make it two in a row for the team. Somewhat confusingly, Aaron Boone is continuing to provide “load management” to everyday players in mid-April, so Tim Locastro (he of the career 78 OPS+) gets the start in left field. Personally, I would have put Stanton in the outfield and DHd someone else, or put Gallo in left field, but what do I know.
Regardless, the Yankees batters will take their hacks against Bruce Zimmermann, who’ll be getting the ball for the Os. Due respect to Bruce, but a pitcher with a career 5.34 FIP over 75.1 innings is exactly the type of pitcher the Yanks hitters need to knock around. Bruce will throw the game’s first pitch at 1:05 pm.
You can check the game out on the YES Network and the MLB Network, and if like me, you’ll be in the car for a good chunk of the afternoon, you can hear it on WFAN. Given that I’ll be in the car or with family most of the day, I don’t know how much time I’ll be spending on social media, but you can always follow me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and on the My Baseball Page Facebook Page
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