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Next Few Series' Could Define the 2010 Yankees

Tom AuSenior Analyst IIApril 12, 2010

ST. PETERSBURG - APRIL 11:  Catcher Jorge Posada #20 is congratulated by Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees after his home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on April 11, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

It's only April, but the New York Yankees already look like winners. I'm not ready to declare them playoff bound yet, but might be doing so before the month is out.

That's because the next four series are almost as crucial as the ones that the Yankees just won.

The Yankees took two out of three EACH against the two stronger division rivals, the Boston Red Sox, and the Tampa Bay Rays on the road.

While it's true that the 4-2 Yankees are in second place in the AL East, that's only because the first place Toronto Blue Jays (5-1) had their first six games against the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

It's more likely that the Yankees could post a similar score against those two teams than the Blue Jays could win four of six against Boston and Tampa Bay on the road.

And the Yankees are larger favorites head-to-head against the Jays, who no longer have Roy Halladay or A.J. Burnett, than against the other two. So Toronto is not a team that the Yankees will worry about.

Instead, they have six games at home against some weaker, but still-formidable, western division teams; their normal playoff opponent, the Los Angeles Angels, and the Texas Rangers.

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I'd be very surprised if the Yankees didn't win at least four games against these teams in Yankee Stadium. They might take three against the weaker Rangers, and a six-game sweep on the homestand, though unlikely, is not out of the question. 

Then it's back on the road for a rematch with the Angels and the resurgent Oakland A's, who, like the Yankees, have taken two out of three against each of their main division rivals.

Recent form suggests that the Yankees can win two out of three against each team, although one could live with a .500, or even .333 result against them on the other teams' home turf.

If the Yankees can win at least eight of their next 12 games, they'd be 12-6 and heading downhill against mostly weaker teams than the ones they'd just played.

At that point, I'd be willing to declare the Yankees back for another trip to the postseason. On the other hand, if they went, say 5-7 in those games for a cumulative .500 record, then of course, it would be back to the drawing board.

There has only been one time in the past 14 years (2008) that the Yankees didn't go to the playoffs.

That year, they dropped two early games against both the Red Sox and Rays, and two out of three to the decrepit Kansas City Royals, finishing the month of April 14-15.

But that hasn't been happening this year—at least not so far.

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