If anyone has been refreshing the current American League standings since the All-Star Break in July, they know how it feels when the Yankees lose a game and the Red Sox win one. The race for the AL East title has been a close one, and the Yankees have been consistently less than five games behind Boston for months. Despite the seemingly hopeless chase, the Bronx Bombers have managed to clinch a postseason berth, along with their rivals, the Red Sox. Joining the Yankees and the Red Sox in the postseason are the Cleveland Indians, the Houston Astros, the Washington Nationals, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, among others.
Even though the Yankees fought hard for their place in the postseason, credit needs to be given to the division leaders in both leagues. AL Central’s Cleveland Indians managed to secure a 22-game winning streak from Aug. 24 to Sept. 14, furthering their already impressive record. The Houston Astros took the AL West, leaving the Angels in the dust behind them. The Washington Nationals stole the NL East division, while the Los Angeles Dodgers destroyed the NL West with a winning record of over 100 games.
But the race isn’t over yet. While the Yankees don’t have as impressive a record as the LA Dodgers, they’ve been chipping away, thanks to a certain rookie. Number 99 has seemingly come out of his “Home Run Derby Slump.” On Sept. 25, Aaron Judge hit his second home run of the game, racking up his season total to 50 home runs. Previously, Mark McGwire, who was a rookie on the Oakland Athletics in 1986, held the record for most home runs ever hit by a rookie. Judge beat McGwire’s previous 49-home run record when Kansas City Royals pitcher Trevor Cahill threw a slider in the bottom of the seventh. After the Home Run Derby and All Star Break, Judge had not been hitting nearly as many home runs as he had in the first half of the season. During the entire month of August, he only hit three home runs, when in previous months he would average 10. His 50th season home run was his 13th home run in the month of September alone. Judge has been on a hot streak as of late, hitting four home runs in the course of two days – Sept. 24 and Sept. 25.
Although the Astros, Indians and Dodgers all have impressive records, the Yankees could very well snag a spot in the League Division Series, League Championship Series, or even the World Series. As the regular season comes to an end and the postseason begins, only time will tell who seals October.