, Newburyport, MA


August 30, 2013

Yankees' math for the playoffs just got harder

When he wasn’t breathlessly declaring that these were already playoff days, Alex Rodriguez was hammering the idea that the Yankees needed wins “like oxygen.”

At the same time, manager Joe Girardi has matter-of-factly stated that it’ll take something north of 90 wins to reach October.

And now after a losing road trip through Tampa Bay and Toronto, they arrive home at a desperate hour.

“We’re playing teams that we’re chasing for the most part,” captain Derek Jeter said of a 10-game homestand that begins tonight against Baltimore. “We don’t have much room for error, so every game is important.”

And every loss brings them closer to missing postseason for the first time since 2008.

“It’s been that way for several weeks now,” Brett Gardner said of the frantic nature of the Yankees’ late summer schedule.

But now the math becomes harder.

With 29 games to play, the Yankees were 5.5 games out of the second AL wild card spot heading into yesterday’s off date and 8.5 games behind AL East leading Boston.

Friday night begins a stretch of 17 straight games for the fourth-place Yanks (70-63), starting with three-game series against the Orioles and White Sox and a four-game set versus the Red Sox.

Of the Yanks’ final 29 games, 16 are at home. Of their final nine series, four are against sub-.500 opponents.

The captain hasn’t crunched the numbers.

“We just need to play better that’s the bottom line,” Jeter said. “Hopefully, we can start doing that at home. This homestand’s extremely important. We’ve got to come ready to play because (Baltimore has) got a great team as well.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

Last year as a member of the Orioles, Mark Reynolds’ club challenged the Yankees throughout a nip-and-tuck September – when the Yanks emerged as division champs.

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