As a September to remember begins to unfold before us in Major League Baseball, the Yankees find themselves in an interesting position. After holding on to sole possession of the AL East for 84 days, they were tied with Baltimore for first place for one day. After a Baltimore loss and a Yanks win tonight, they now have a one-game lead, and hope to start a new streak atop the division to end the season. With the majority of their remaining schedule against AL East opponents, the Yankees have their destiny in their own hands. However, with an offense that’s been struggling through inconsistency and injury, they need someone to step up, someone to be a savior. They needed a jumpstart in 2009 after starting slow, and received one in Alex Rodriguez, who returned from hip surgery and blasted a three-run home run in his first at-bat, on the first pitch, against Baltimore in Camden Yards. From that point forward, the Yankees were off and running, while Arod guided them with clutch hits en route to a World Series victory.
The Yankees need Arod again in 2012.
He returned on Monday, as summer unofficially ended, after being sidelined since July 24 with a broken hand. On July 18, the Yankees had a 10 game lead. Since Arod went down, the Yankees have gone down as well. The lineup had to be reshuffled and rebuilt, as it became too left-handed. Robinson Cano began to struggle without any protection in the lineup, Mark Teixeira went down with a calf injury. Without Teix and Arod, the lineup isn’t that imposing. Arod balances the lineup and lengthens it, even though he isn’t the player he used to be. As Alex Rodriguez goes, so do the Yankees. His name and reputation alone still strikes fear in opposing pitchers. Right when he got hurt, you could tell he was about to heat up and go on one of his tears. Currently, he is hitting .275 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs, almost a carbon-copy of last years stats. Without injury this year, he would’ve ended the season with 30 plus homers and 100 RBIs.
The thing with home run hitters is that they come in bunches. I fully expect Arod to go on one of his runs before this month is over, hitting say 4 homers over the course of 5-6 games, having multi-hit games, extra-base hits. He has a chance to be a hero this season for a Yankees team that is this close to missing the playoffs. With Teixeira hopefully coming back for the huge four-game Baltimore series this weekend, the Yankees hope to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. Look for Arod to have a say in it. If he can propel the Yanks to October, there’s no reason the Yanks won’t get hot and make another run towards the World Series. It’s a clean slate in October, just ask the 2000 Yankees. That team lost 15 of its remaining 18 games, and backed into the playoffs. We all know how that year ended.