Well, the final series of the regular season is upon us. The Boston Red Sox will come into Yankee Stadium for a three game set, hoping to play the role of spoiler and make the lives of their most hated rival difficult. The Yankees hope to finish out the season strong by securing the AL East, gaining some steam as they enter October baseball. For New York, it’s simple: take care of business.
The Baltimore Orioles will head down to Tampa Bay to finish out their season against the Rays, a more difficult task taking into account the team and the pitching the Rays will throw at them: Alex Cobb, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. The Yankees will face Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matzusaka in their series finale.
Mark Teixeira will most likely rejoin the Yankees tomorrow before the series starts, giving the Yanks back a Gold Glove winning first basemen and big bat in the middle of the order. This allows Nick Swisher to move back to right field and Ichiro to left. No more Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez as defensive liabilities anymore. Suddenly, with Teixeira back, the Yankees lineup has all of a sudden gotten longer and more dangerous to pitch through. Before Teix was sidelined with a calf injury, he was hitting .255 with 23 homers and a then team leading 81 RBIs. He returned briefly, but was shelved again because he re-agrivated his leg.
With Teix in the middle of the lineup, he makes Robinson Cano better, Alex Rodriguez better. Cano doesn’t need to be any better at the moment, however, as he is hitting over .600 over his last 6 games. Arod though needs a kickstart. He never really had a rehab assignment before he came back from his broken hand, so since he’s been back, he’s been sort of playing catchup. Teix also adds a righty bat to a lefty-heavy yanks lineup against left-handed pitchers. Because he is a switch hitter, he provides a lot of matchup problems as managers try to navigate through the Yankees’ lineup late in games.
Since the Yankees are playing the feeble Red Sox, they must feel like nothing short of a sweep is acceptable. You’d have to imagine the Orioles will lose a game down in Tampa to one of their tough pitchers. For the Yankees, if they just win, everything will take care of itself. They hope Mark sends a couple Teix messages to push them into the ALDS starting tomorrow night.