5 Things the New York Yankees Must Do to Clinch the AL East Title
But as the past few years in baseball have taught us, no lead is safe no matter how big and how late into the season it might be.
The Yankees still need to play out the remainder of their schedule to finish the job and will need to do some specific things along the way to get it done.
Here are some things the Bombers must do in order to take the AL East.
Heal the Wounded
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New York has a number of players on the disabled list at the moment, but none more important than their two top starters: CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte.
While Sabathia should be back by the end of the month, Pettitte won't be back until early-to-mid September, thus the Yanks need another pitcher or two to step up in the meantime.
Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have been inconsistent all season long and yes, Freddy Garcia has done a relatively solid job filling in, but the Bombers will need more than he and Hiroki Kuroda doing well to win the division.
On top of those injuries, the Yanks are also missing Alex Rodriguez.
A-Rod is important because he has a solid bat. More importantly, he gives New York another hitter who isn't one-dimensional and can drive in runs with normal base hits.
The Yankees are deep enough to overcome these injuries, but there's no doubt that having their wounded players return to action only increases their shot at winning the AL East.
Get Curtis Granderson Going
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Curtis Granderson is as important to the Yankees offense as is any big bat in the lineup. And while the Bombers have plenty of offense to go around, Grandy is still vital to this team's success moving forward.
Granderson is hitting a forgettable .160 in the month of August and is looking uncomfortable at the plate.
To put his rough month into perspective, season-long interstate-dweller Russell Martin is hitting .250 this month, almost 100 points better than his teammate.
Again, Granderson's performance will not make or break this team's regular season, but he would be a huge boost to the offense if he could just get it going.
It is also important that Granderson doesn't limp into the postseason.
Get Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes Going
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It's been the same story all season long: Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have been an utterly inconsistent.
Hughes might be on his last leg, having failed to prove himself to be a reliable starter on numerous occasions. There's just no telling what Hughes will give the Yanks on any given start, and that doesn't help his chances of starting a playoff game.
Nova comes off a 2011 that saw him win 16 games and throw a great game in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees are still waiting for a second-half explosion much like they saw from the 25-year-old last season, but it doesn't look like it's coming anytime soon.
Combined with the fact that Sabathia and Pettitte are injured, and you have a rotation that is very uncertain moving forward. Thanks to great depth, the Bombers might be able to still get the job done in the regular season, but it will be much tougher if Nova and Hughes continue to pitch the way they have been.
Beat Divisional Opponents
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The quickest way to blow a lead in your own division is to lose to divisional opponents, something the Yankees can't afford to do.
Granted, they have a very tough division to deal with, but the Bombers must navigate the remaining division rivals on their schedule successfully in order to be AL East champs.
Suffering one sweep could significantly cut the Yanks lead down and give the teams chasing the Bombers some much-needed momentum and belief that they can be the next team to complete a historic comeback.
No September Collapse
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This one goes without saying, but the Yanks simply can't afford a letdown come September. It's easy to look too far ahead when you're a team like the Yankees, who have been atop their division for quite some time now.
But this is a roster of experienced veterans who know what it takes to win and keep winning in the regular season.
You can never say never in baseball, but there's little to no chance the Bombers and their experience allow for an epic collapse down the stretch of the season.