First Pitch: Can the Yankees win it all?

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
7:00
AM ET
This would have been a ridiculous question to ask a week ago, but it is perfectly legitimate now.

Last week at this time, there were serious questions about the Yankees not only blowing the AL East, but perhaps having to face the ignominy of an early knockout in the wild-card play-in game. But with Monday night's 6-3 win over the hapless Minnesota Twins, combined with a doubleheader split by the Orioles and, most importantly, the very real possibility that Andy Pettitte will be a major factor for this team in October, suddenly everything is in play again.

And I mean everything. The AL East, which they now lead by 1½ games, a lead that feels a lot bigger because it is the first time in more than three weeks that a margin of more than a game separated the Yankees and Orioles.

And beyond that, having the best record in the AL, and the home-field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs that goes with it, is certainly not out of the question. Right now, the Yankees are just two games behind the league-leading Texas Rangers, and there is no argument about who has the easier road to the finish line.

The Yankees have two more games with the last-place Twins, four with the last-place Blue Jays, and three with the fourth-place Red Sox. The Rangers have six more games with the Oakland Athletics, including the last three of the season in Oakland.

So as of today, anything is possible.

"I think you think about that, too," Joe Girardi said when asked if he still thought the overall league title was attainable. "But obviously that's secondary. Winning our division is the first thing you want; if you can get the best record, that's great."
For Girardi to even entertain such a question means he's probably thinking about it, too.

Which brings us to the Question of the Day: Now that the Yankees appear to have shaken off the doldrums of August, where do you think they will finish up? Atop the AL East? As the wild card? Or will they walk off with the whole enchilada and get the chance to host an ALDS against the fourth-best team in the league? Play Carnac the Magnificent (ask mom and dad) and let us know below.

Up now: My column on the marvel that is Andy Pettitte.

Coming soon: Another fine W2W4 by Mark Simon setting up tonight's matchup of Phil Hughes (16-12, 4.05) vs. RHP Esmerling Vasquez (6-4, 6.75), first pitch at 8:10 p.m. Clubhouse opens at 4:40 p.m. N.Y. time, and I'll be on the scene with the lineups and all the pregame news, so check in frequently. And as always, thanks for reading.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146