Remember when the American League East was supposed to be extremely close down to the wire? The Yankees sweep of the Red Sox coinciding with the Rays dropping two of three to the Mariners leaves New York up 6.5 on Boston and 8 on Tampa Bay with 51 games remaining. I’m not saying the divisional race is definitely over, but Yankee fans can probably begin taking out loans for playoff tickets.
Coolstandings has the Yankees divisional chances at 78% and their playoff odds have actually surpassed the Dodgers. Even if the Yankees play a little under .500 from this point forward and go 25-26, the Red Sox would have to play ~.600 ball and go 32-20 to win the division. The Rays would have to move a mountain and win 65% of their games to simply tie the Yankees. Anytime you have to bank on winning that many games in such a small time frame, you should probably start focusing on the wild card race .
If/when the Yankees win the division, expect the events of the past weekend to be fingered as the most important series of the season. The 13 inning game and Daniel Bard implosion instantly become Yankee folklore. A split leaves Boston within striking distance and a loss series puts Boston in passing position. Now the 12 games remaining against the Red Sox/Rays can be split without fear of losing the lead from a few bad games.
Obviously anything can happen over the last few weeks, but barring a few injuries or prolonged slumps, the Yankees are going to break new Yankee Stadium into the October activities right away.
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