Starting pitching was supposed to be a problem early in the season for the New York Yankees.
Sure, the Yanks had CC Sabathia, but after that the rotation consisted of Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Iván Nova and Freddy Garcia, after Michael Pineda was lost for the season.
The first four starters all have 12 or more wins so far this season:
- Hughes: 15-12, 3.96;
- Kuroda: 14-10, 3.26;
- Sabathia: 13-6 3.63;
- Nova: 12-7, 4.85.
Rafael Soriano has filled in ably for injured closer Mariano Rivera, converting all but three of 43 save opportunities.
General manager Brian Cashman had done a good job prepping his team for a run at World Series No. 28 ... but the Texas Rangers have played in the last two Series. In fact, the Yankees have appeared in only one World Series since 2001.
Only 16 games remain for the Yanks. They should not need to be scoreboard-watching while the Baltimore Orioles on the west coast. Yet they are. It has come to that.
Are the Yanks good enough to win it all? Likely not.
Not when so many of their older players looked tired and run down.
Raul Ibanez, 40, is hitting .194 with four homers and 17 RBIs since the all-star break.
Andruw Jones, 39, is hitting .139 with two homers and 10 RBIs since the best of the best gathered in Kansas City.
Ichiro Suzuki, who turns 39 next month, is hitting .288 -- .036 below his career average -- with three homers and 18 RBIs since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners.
First baseman Mark Teixeira, 32, is injured and may be lost for the season.
Yankee captain, shortstop Derek Jeter, 38, is hobbling after suffering a bone bruise against the Red Sox.
As the Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays chase the Yanks to the finish line, the American League East will be decided by the Yanks' starting pitching, which should be good enough.
Good enough to get there, but not likely good enough to get by the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees host the Jays for a three-game series and then the Oakland Athletics come to Yankee Stadium. Next, the Yanks play three games in Minnesota and three at the Rogers Centre for four. And then the Yanks finish their season at home with three games against the Boston Red Sox.
Lefty Andy Pettitte, who now says he may return next year for a 15th season next year, starts the opener against Ricky Romero, who is looking to end his 13-game losing streak.
BLUE JAYS AT YANKEES
TUESDAY 7:05 p.m. LHP Ricky Romero LHP Andy Pettitte
WEDNESDAY 7:05 p.m. RHP H. Alvarez RHP Phil Hughes
THURSDAY 7:05 p.m. LHP Aaron Laffey LHP CC Sabathia
The Yankees have more to play for, have the advantage in each pitching matchup, are at home, and are better. The Jays remain Jose Bautista-less and Edwin Encarnacion, their best player this season, was limping on the weekend against the Boston Red Sox. The Jays have an 11-22 record at new Yankee Stadium and are 111-146 in the Bronx in franchise history. The Yanks lead the Baltimore Orioles by one game in the American League East heading into Monday night's play.
Putting this week's undefeated string on the line, the Yanks will win two of three.
YANKEES WHO'S HOT
- 2B Robinson Cano hit his 40th and 41st double on the weekend. Cano has 40 or more doubles in six seasons. Only Lou Gehrig has more 40-double seasons in pinstripes.
- RP Rafael Soriano has not blown a save since Aug. 27.
- C Russell Martin is hitting .293 (12-for-41) since Sept. 1.
YANKEES WHO'S COLD
- OF Raul Ibanez is hitting .154 (12-for-78) with two doubles, two triples, a homer and eight RBIs since Aug. 3.
- SS Derek Jeter is questionable to play shortstop Tuesday after four days at DH since suffering a bone bruise Wednesday.