First Pitch: Do you believe in miracles?
July, 19, 2013
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsThe Yankees kick off a string of tough series Friday with a three-game set in Boston.Does anyone believe? Does anyone think the New York Yankees are about to skyrocket from fourth place to first? Does anyone even know how, incredibly, they have found themselves seven games over .500?
This is the season that the Yankees could say no one believed in us. Because while I'm sure there are some folks out there who thinks this Yankees team is about to make a huge run, I can't find many.
The next few days or so could decide what kind of summer the Yankees are going to have. They enter the second half of the season in Boston, six games behind the Red Sox, who have the second-best record in baseball. In the wild-card standings, they are tied for fourth with the Cleveland Indians, three games out of the second spot.
The Yankees' schedule is no joke to start the second half. After three in Boston starting Friday, they have four in Texas, followed by three more at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. In those 10 games, the Yankees could learn if they're going to be contenders or if the bottom of the East will be their new address.
At the All-Star Game, opponents spoke as if the Yankees could make a run. But it seemed more polite, politically correct material than players who were worried about a potential Yankees rise. Adam Jones, the Baltimore Orioles' very quotable outfielder, made the best case.
"With the pitch that they’ve got with [C.C.] Sabathia and [Hiroki] Kuroda and Mariano [Rivera], [Robinson] Cano, [Derek] Jeter is going to come back," Jones said. "My Nostradamus effect is that Jeter will be ready for the final push of September. He is going to be fresh -- fresher than all of us -- but he is going to make that final push. They are so cerebral. That’s how they win games, just on their cerebral alone. [Joe] Girardi’s a helluva manager. He knows what to do with that team. You can never count out the Yankees. At the end of the day, they are still the Yankees."
But even if Jeter comes back on Friday, the Yankees' lineup will look something like this: Brett Gardner, Jeter (DH), Robinson Cano, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte, Eduardo Nunez, Luis Cruz and Chris Stewart.
Maybe soon, they will have Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, so they may be able to hang around. But I don't think they will have enough to make the playoffs.
Up now: Ian Begley with the latest on Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees will decide on Jeter Friday. I go through a number of trade scenarios. Names mentioned include Cano, Hunter Pence and Chase Headley. Here are six prospects to watch in the second half.
On deck: Finally, some baseball again! I'll be in Boston as the Yankees face the Red Sox at 7:10 p.m. Andy Pettitte (7-6, 4.39) vs. Felix Doubront (6-3, 3.91). On Saturday a little after 4 p.m., it will be Hiroki Kuroda (8-6, 2.65) vs. John Lackey (7-6, 2.78). On Sunday Night Baseball, it will be CC Sabathia (9-8, 4.07) vs. Jon Lester (8-6, 4.58).
Question of the day: Do you believe?