BALTIMORE — The Yankees come into Tuesday 2 1/2 games out in the AL East, suddenly streaking while the Red Sox suddenly are not.
“We’ve been able to close the gap and shave some games off and hopefully we’ll be able to do that between now and October 1,” general manager Brian Cashman said by phone Tuesday morning. “Boston’s quite aware of where we’re sitting currently, so we’ll see where it takes us.”
The Yankees looked done as far as winning the AL East was concerned after a three-game sweep by the Indians last week at the Stadium.
A four-game series with the division-leading Red Sox was next, a chance for Boston to put a hammerlock on the East.
Instead, the Yankees took three of four and continued their good play Monday afternoon with a 7-4 victory over the Orioles, one of several teams in the AL wild-card hunt.
“Definitely was huge because our sights have always been on the division and so it’s still within reach,” said Cashman, who spoke several hours before The New York Times reported on the Red Sox using electronic equipment at Fenway Park to steal signs. “We needed to take at the very least three out of four [from the Red Sox] and thankfully our guys stepped up and made that happen.”
The Yankees have received a boost from the return of Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Greg Bird from the disabled list, the trio making the offense — one of the most productive in the game when the team got off to a 38-23 start — whole again.
“We all saw what Holliday was doing for us earlier in the season before we lost him to the injury, Starlin Castro was an All-Star, even though he didn’t get to play in the game because of the hamstring,” Cashman said. “And Greg Bird, man, he’s always been a hitter. It’s something he’s always been able to do as long as he’s healthy. I just think getting those guys back really lengthened the lineup.”
Cashman recently returned from a trip to Japan to watch some of the talent there, most notably hitting and pitching star Shohei Otani, who has been called “Japan’s Babe Ruth,” among other superlatives.
Cashman said tampering rules prohibited him from commenting on any of the players he saw with the Nippon-Ham Fighters or Yomiuri Giants.
As for his club, Cashman said there’s not much for him to do the rest of the season.
“I’m comfortable with my team, I believe in our guys, I believe in what we’ve got,” Cashman said. “That’s why we’ve made the decisions we’ve made in season to help solidify it and fortify it. Now, it’s time to just stay out of the way and let it play.”