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The schedule is about to get easier for Yankees, at least on paper

Yankees manager Aaron Boone looks on from the

Yankees manager Aaron Boone looks on from the dugout against the Royals at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CHICAGO — With the Yankees trailing the Red Sox by a season-high 9 ½ games entering Monday night, the calendar is not their friend.

The schedule?

That’s another matter.

Though the hill to catch Boston atop the AL East is steep — and obviously an impossibility if the Red Sox don’t cool off a bit — there is a path for the Yankees to at least make the division race competitive come Sept. 18, the next time the rivals see each other.

The Yankees, 6-9 since the All-Star break after being swept in a four-game series at Fenway Park, started a three-game series against the White Sox on Monday night. It was the beginning of a stretch of eight straight series against teams with non-winning records. Though the White Sox had won four straight entering Monday, including a three-game sweep of the Rays, that improved them only to 41-70.

After that comes a four-game series at home against the 49-64 Rangers. There’s a makeup game Aug. 13 against the 45-64 Mets, followed by three games at home against the 56-56 Rays and three against the 51-60 Blue Jays. Series against the Marlins, Orioles, White Sox and Tigers follow.

The combined winning percentage (entering Monday night) of the teams the Yankees face the rest of the month? .404.

Not surprisingly, Aaron Boone steered clear of schedule-gazing and drawing conclusions from it.

“I look at it as I think we’re a really good team,” Boone said. “We’re in a tough stretch where we haven’t necessarily played our best, obviously, but I always feel like we’re ‘today’ away from starting to turn that around and starting to come out of that, and I believe that that day is today. And I walk into that room [clubhouse] every day with that confidence, with that optimism, because of the people we’re able to roll out there every day, and nothing’s changed in that regard.”

Ken Singleton, a YES broadcaster who played 15 years in the major leagues and was a member of some of Earl Weaver’s powerhouse teams in Baltimore, said players don’t get caught up in the schedule and the records of the teams on it.

“I’ve read that too, where they supposedly have an easy schedule,” Singleton said Monday. “But these teams aren’t going to make it easy on you. There’s guys fighting for jobs on some of these bad teams, and if they show against you or some of the better teams, it looks good in their front office’s eyes. If I was on one of those teams, that’s what I’d be trying to do. Nobody’s going to roll over.”

Singleton said the Yankees’ goal shouldn’t be to knock off all 9 1⁄2 games by the time the Yankees see the Red Sox again.

“The only way to do it is play these one at a time, win series like they were doing. They’re not doing it now,” Singleton said. “I still have a feeling . . . 9 ½ is pretty far, but to me, it’s not over. I think, personally, what you have to do, they have six more games with the Red Sox? They have to get it within where they can do it themselves. They can’t expect help from some of these other teams.”

Forgotten, he said, is the fact that as recently as June 21, the Yankees actually had a two-game lead in the division. They entered Monday’s action with an 18-20 record since then to Boston’s 29-8 mark in the same stretch.

“The Red Sox are really playing well right now and the Yankees have been 50-50 and that’s not good enough,” Singleton said. “But at the beginning of the year, the Yankees were playing 50-50 [a 9-9 start to Boston’s 17-2], and they caught up and actually went ahead. You never know.”

New York Sports