Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira provide a solid pop in the line-up. (Image: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

The Yankees and the month of August

So clearly, it’s been noted that the New York Yankees have had somewhat of an unusual trend of losing games lately. Since the All-Star break, the Yankees have gone 11-11 and their streak of dominance in the MLB has been currently won over by the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds who now both hold better records than the Bombers. Even the Baltimore Orioles who sit 5.5 games out of first in the AL East are going nowhere but up, especially with the Tampa Bay Rays on their tail. Out of those 11 wins, six of them came from the softer teams in the AL such as the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. When the Yankees have faced contending teams as of late, such as the Oakland A’s, the Yanks seem to falter a bit. Currently, they’re locked in a four-game series with the Detroit Tigers, a team that loves to remind us who won in the ALDS last year. After this, the Yankees face quite a few tough teams such as the Texas Rangers for four games, the surging Boston Red Sox, the hard-nosed Chicago White Sox along with playing the Blue Jays six times in the remainder of the month. The Yankees have no reason to really be concerned, but if they continue to play the way they have, then the concern may be legitimate.

How will CC Sabathia do Wednesday night's game in Detroit? (Image: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE)

Looking at this series with the Tigers, we still have to face Doug Fister who has completely turned his season around. The Tigers’ pitching is not their only strength, which was clearly evident in their comeback win Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. The one-two knockout punch of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is quite possibly one of the most lethal duos in the game right now. Even ex-Yankee Austin Jackson is doing well in the Motor City. For the Tigers, rookie Quintin Berry has been a pleasant surprise in an outfield that has been without Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge, two guys who used to be staples there.

What the Yankees need to watch out for in the rest of this series is keeping Detroit off of the bases. Currently the Tigers hold the third best on base percentage (.337) in MLB along with the fourth best batting average at .269. The Yankees’ slumping trend lately has been the pitching. While the starters were assured to get outs before, they have been the victims of giving up extra runs when the game is on or near the line. If you want specifics of that, take a closer look at our previous few series. Even the bullpen has seemed to hit somewhat of a bump in the road.

With the Blue Jays’ woes, the Yankees should have no trouble, but it’s always the teams you should beat that play spoiler. We’ve seen teams play spoiler many times in the past, especially the Orioles, so hopefully the Yankees can just bear down and take this series as it goes.

Heading back home, we’ll get a welcome from the Rangers. While the Rangers’ pitching doesn’t particularly scare anyone, their offense still hasn’t skipped a beat. Despite being in a rather noticeable slump, Josh Hamilton is still a force to be reckoned with. Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler have also been quite productive for Texas. Beltre is batting .310 on the year, which leads the Rangers. Kinsler leads the team in runs scored with 78. This series, much like the Tigers series, has serious postseason implications and hopefully the mental aspect of it doesn’t unnerve the Yanks too much.

The battle against a pair of Sox comes next. First, we face the Red Sox in New York. From what we’ve seen from the Red Sox now as compared to earlier in the season, they’re still a threat, but only if we let them. We should have easily swept that series back in the end of July but did not. Why? Lack of offense? Pitching not up to par? Perhaps it was a combination of both. With a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox’ outfield is partially back together, but the injury plagued Carl Crawford may have to end up having Tommy John surgery. David Ortiz has really helped carry the team offensively in almost every category and is definitely proving his worth. Boston’s pitching though has been in shambles and doesn’t look like it’s going to improve much, if it all for the rest of 2012.

In Chicago, the White Sox are in a somewhat familiar position, but one they were used to with Ozzie Guillen. However, ever since Robin Ventura took over the reins, the White Sox look like a completely different team than last year. The rise of Chris Sale and Jake Peavy (both of whom were All-Stars) has added a lot their starting rotation, which was something in question after John Danks went down. The bullpen has been bolstered with the addition of Brett Myers who did well in Houston, but now backs up Addison Reed in case anything goes haywire. For the Chi-Sox offensively, ex-Red Sox Kevin Youkilis is making his mark. He’s completely turned his slumping season around in Chicago. Veterans Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski have been having career seasons which have helped add to Chicago’s high run differential in 2012. Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza have also helped add to the offense.

Looking at the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter both have helped steer the offense all season as they both hold the highest batting averages. Mark Teixeira continues to be very productive as he leads the team in RBIs with 72. Curtis Granderson is one home run shy away from 30 on the season, so perhaps he’ll get that soon. The Yankees backups have provided plenty of production. Eric Chavez, while injury prone, still has a pretty good bat as he is hitting .275 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI. Jayson Nix, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones all are doing well and add to the offense with their own particular strengths.

It’s not a do or die scenario, but the Yankees pitching as a whole hasn’t been as sharp recently. We did see a rather dominant performance out of CC Sabathia the other day as he threw a complete game and Hiroki Kuroda has also been doing well even if he does get some tough luck losses. Ivan Nova has just been flat out awful lately. For the bullpen, it’s not slipping by any means, but they just don’t look as if they have that spark that they did earlier. Cody Eppley has been roughed up lately, giving up three runs in his last 3.1 innings pitched, but it’s nothing to really concern ourselves with.

So for the Yankees, August is by no means a month to continue their inconsistent play. The AL East can easily slip away if they aren’t careful, but at the same time, that would depend on the other teams getting on absolute hot streaks. Is it possible? Sure. The Yankees are one the MLB’s best teams, but it’s been rough ever since mid-July. Furthermore, the teams they play this month are those they could very well see in the postseason. While they say the actual season means nothing in the playoffs, it still gives us a better idea to figure out our opponents, especially if we want to avoid another first round loss.

Tags: Andruw Jones Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox CC Sabathia Chicago White Sox Cody Eppley Curtis Granderson Derek Jeter Detroit Tigers Eric Chavez Hiroki Kuroda Houston Astros Jayson Nix Mark Teixeira New York Yankees Oakland A's Raul Ibanez Robinson Cano Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers Toronto Blue Jays

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