Five games ago, after dropping two games to the lowly Houston Astros, the New York Yankees had a closed door, players only meeting. Whatever was said appears to be working as the Bronx Bombers have reeled off five huge wins in a row. Yesterdays shellacking of the Royals was the most impressive win yet, and tonight, as they open the most important series of the season, the Yankees need to keep rolling. Throw whatever was said at that meeting out the window, as this series should be fueled by one thing and one thing only… revenge.
The Detroit Tigers have been the thorn in the Yankees side for the past several seasons. Since 2006, the Tigers have sent the Yankees home packing three times. All three of those times, the Yankees had the better record and were the odds on favorites to win the series. All three times, the Yankees chance at a World Series ended. Now, the tables are turned. The Tigers are the superior team, with a better record and a two game lead on the Yankees for the final Wild Card spot. There is one huge difference this time around.
The Tigers sent the Yankees packing in 2006 on their surprising run to the World Series. That season the Yanks won the AL East and the Tigers were second in the Central. In 2011, the Yankees once again won the AL East and finished with a record two games better than the Tigers, yet Detroit once again prevailed, winning the opening round of the playoffs three games to two and ending the Yankees shot at yet another World Series. A year later, the Yankees finished with a record that saw them win seven more games than the Tigers, yet once again, the Tigers came out the victors. This series was low-lighted by the Derek Jeter injury, which forever transformed the Yankees.
Now, the Yankees are the team that is rolling and the Tigers seem to be sputtering. They lost two games in a row this past weekend, allowing a combined 32 runs to the Minnesota Twins in the back-to-back contests. The Yankees on the other hand, have found ways to win, whether it be in comeback mode, walk-off style, or a straight out massacre. This is the Yankees chance to win. A sweep would put the Yankees ahead of the Tigers and one step closer to that Wild Card spot heading into a huge series with the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend. The Yankees need huge starts from their starters. If the starters prevail, starting with the Yankees hottest pitcher in Brandon McCarthy tonight, and keep it close late into the games, the Tigers bullpen is very suspect. The recent late inning heroics of these experienced Yankees should be able to come through in the clutch.
Winning this series against the Tigers, whether is is 2-1 or indeed a sweep, won’t lock up a Wild Card spot. What it will do is build the momentum the Yankees need heading into September. They finish the season with a slate full of division games, where they get to beat up on the Red Sox and Blue Jays who are seemingly getting worse by the week, and have eight huge games against the first place Orioles. It all starts tonight, and for the Yankees, it’s time to get even.