Yankees Daily Briefing 09/25/11

Although the Tampa Bay Rays may be running out of games to catch the Red Sox, the fact that Boston has won just four times since Labor Day (and only once by less than 14 runs) has to be considered a cause for concern. The Yankees will have a chance to compound Boston’s problems on Sunday when the two play a doubleheader. New York will have A.J. Burnett in the first game, and their likely Game Two starter, Ivan Nova in the second, while the Red Sox will rest their hopes with Tim Wakefield (7-7, 5.08) and John Lackey (12-12, 6.49).

Discussion of the Day: How important do you think home field would be to the Yankees’ playoff chances? Why? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Behind Enemy Lines: Pete Abraham writes that Mike Aviles has been a useful utility man for the Red Sox. Aviles grew up not far from Yankee Stadium, so playing against the Yankees has to be an interesting experience.

1) Wallace Matthews writes that now is the time for the Yankees to step on the Red Sox.

With their last five games of the season against the Red Sox and the Rays, the Yankees could theoretically exert their choice in which AL East opponent they would prefer to see in the playoffs. The Yankees need only one more win or one more Detroit loss to secure home field advantage for the playoffs, in stark contrast to the Red Sox, who are in danger of missing the postseason, even if the possibility is still remote. The Yankees are only 5-11 against Boston this season, but they have won three of their last four games, and will have an opportunity to make it 7-11 for the year on Sunday.

2) Brien Jackson at It’s About the Money wonders what is going on with Bartolo Colon.

Colon, who was so important for the Yankees in the first half, has struggled in the second. At first glance the reasoning for this should be simple: Colon hasn’t pitched over 150 innings in a major league season since 2005, and combined with his injury history, the bigger question might be how Colon managed to be so productive for the Yankees for so long this season. As it is right now, the playoff rotation for the ALDS would seem to be CC Sabathia, Nova, and Freddy Garcia; if Colon were to start an ALCS game for the Yankees would probably be a decision the Yankees make if they do get that far.

3) Bill Madden writes that the Yankees have what it takes to win the World Series.

The Yankees, who won their 96th game on Saturday, have been more successful than most predicted and on Saturday clinched home field advantage. Whether or not they’re a better team than the Philadelphia Phillies (or any other of their possible playoff opponents) is debatable, but what isn’t is that the Yankees have just as much chance to win the World Series given their offense and bullpen as they do to lose in the first round, with the pitching concerns.

4) Mike Vorkunov writes about the ceremony remembering Roger Maris on the 50th anniversary of his 61 home run season.

Mickey Mantle, not Maris, was supposed to be the one that broke Babe Ruth’s home record, and he did give it a run, but ultimately fell short of Maris’ mark. The 61 home runs Maris hit were not controversy free, either, as Maris had more games than Ruth to accomplish the feat. Still, given that so few have hit even 60 home runs, even with the extended season, Maris’ accomplishment still looms large.