If you haven’t looked at the AL Wild Card Standings in a while, than it may surprise you to see that the Yankees are only 4.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians. After a terrible first half of the season, the Yankees have returned to form. Since the All Star break they are 11-3, including their current five game winning streak. Even more impressive is the scores of the games. Their overpriced lineup and $150 million pitching staff both have excelled in recent week. During this stretch, the Yankees have outscored their opponents 108-58. Unfortunately, that is where the good statistics end. The competition has been horrible, as the Yanks have played eight games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, four against the Toronto Blue Jays, and now two against the Kansas City Royals. The 108-58 advantage on the scoreboard is only, because of two lopsided victories over the Devil Rays (17-5 and 21-4). The scoreboard and record are both deceiving, but that doesn’t mean that the Yankees haven’t improved, right? For that, we have to look at certain players’ statistics over this stretch. The Yankees have a great lineup, but it did not produce in the first half of the season. Well, it would be a great sign to Yankees’ fans if Johnny Damon started hitting again. Well, no such luck as the lackluster Damon has batted .250 since the All Star Break and is still hitting .247 on the season. Maybe if the pitching had improved, but Mussina has had a 7.59 ERA during the last few weeks and Rivera has only gotten saves in four of the eleven wins. Scott Proctor’s 5.06 ERA and 2.81 WHIP show signs of him getting tired. Roger Clemens, the player supposed to make a big difference with the Yanks, is 3-4 overall and has made no real difference on the squad.If there were any real players available on the trading deadline, the Yankees will be wheeling and dealing like no other team. Hey, they’re back in it now! Yet few players are available and those that are won’t make a difference on the Yanks old lineup. Giambi’s upcoming return may offer a lift, but it is not going to lighten the pressure on this underachieving team. If Clemens’ arrival didn’t provide a fire beneath the team, then Giambi’s return certainly isn’t going to provide any motivation.
So, let’s not include the Yankees in the playoffs right away. The Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians both stand in their way, and neither team is going to fade anytime soon. They both have been going through a tough stretch lately, and the Yankees have been hot. The Yankees finish off July with an easy schedule, but come August, when the opponents get tougher, expect the Yankees to fade.