Yankees feeling the pressure as wild card lead nearly disappears

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, left, and Giancarlo Stanton, second from left, watch from the dugout during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

The Yankees are heading back home after a less than ideal road trip with a heightened sense of urgency as their wild-card lead has shrunk to just one game.

Before returning to the Bronx on Friday for their final home series of the regular season, the Yankees lost Wednesday at Minnesota in a game that closed out a pivotal late-season, three-city road trip. A trip that they have to consider a failure at this point.

While on the road for the past 10 days, the Yankees went 4-5, dropping their series to the Athletics and the Twins. The series loss at Oakland might have been the most costly, as it helped the A’s creep closer in the American League wild-card chase. The Yankees came into that series with a 4½ game lead in the wild-card race.

Now, thanks to the Yankees loss in a near-no-hitter and Oakland’s win at Baltimore, the A’s have tightened the race for the top wild-card spot to just one game. That series against Oakland was especially a missed opportunity for the Yanks.

The Yankees have 16 more games, 16 more chances, beginning with tomorrow’s series opener vs the Blue Jays. That series and every other series for the remainder of the season has now become a must win.

Since Sept. 1, the Yankees are 5-6. They have collectively hit .194 with 67 hits and 95 strikeouts and a .641 OPS within those 11 games. Stanton has factored heavily into the offensive slump, collecting just four hits in the 10 games he has played in that span.

The highly paid slugger is batting .105 (4-for-38) with two RBIs, Stanton is homerless in that stretch as well.  Another factor?… Aaron Judge.

Since the right fielder went on the disabled list July 27, the Yankees have gone 25-20. Their hitters have a collective .235 batting average with 360 strikeouts in those 45 games. Their pitchers have a 4.31 ERA during that stretch.

The fact of the matter is though, the time for excuses is done. This team is either going to perform, or it isn’t.

Don’t you just love September baseball?

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