By Brad Carroll
Unless the New York Yankees pull off a miracle and make the postseason as a wild card team, the upcoming four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles will be the final games of Derek Jeter's career at Yankee Stadium. While it's an extremely sad time to be a Yankees fan, there should be a moment to remember come Thursday night.
Jeter will make his last start and play his final game at the Stadium that night. While there is no telling how manager Joe Girardi will handle the situation, if it's anything like last year's farewell to Mariano Rivera, where Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out of the dugout to remove the greatest closer of all time from the game, it should be a special moment Yankees fans will never forget.
No matter how the situation is handled, look for a long, standing ovation for Jeter in the ninth inning, where he will likely be taken out of the game at some point so he can soak in the cheers one final time. It's one game all Yankees fans should have on the television, if you're not lucky enough to be there in person.
Five years from now, Jeter should be either the first or second player in history to be a unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame. Rivera comes one year before Jeter, and he should be the first unanimous selection. But if it's not him, it should be Jeter. It has to be Jeter. But, of course, both of those things will be nearly impossible because the Hall of Fame voting process is a disaster. That's a column for another day, however.
Here is a preview of the final regular season home series of the year for the Yankees, as they host the Baltimore Orioles for four games. Yes, the Yankees have a chance to qualify for the second wild card spot, they just need to win and get a lot of help.
Baltimore Orioles (93-62, AL East champions)
at New York Yankees (80-75, 4.5 GB of second WC)
Monday, 7:05 p.m.
Michael Pineda (3-2, 2.15) vs. Wei-Yin Chen (16-4, 3.58)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Brandon McCarthy (10-14, 3.93) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 4.90)
Wednesday, 1:05 p.m.
Shane Greene (5-3, 3.24) vs. Bud Norris (14-8, 3.62)
Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-9, 3.77) vs. Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57)
Playoff Picture: The Yankees are holding onto their slim playoff hopes entering the final week of the season. For the Yankees to even have a chance at reaching that second wild card spot, they will have to win the final seven games on the schedule, four against Baltimore and three against Boston. To start this week, the Royals play the Indians for four games, including one where the Indians already lead 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning, and the Mariners are in Toronto for four games. If the Royals win four of their remaining seven games, the Yankees are eliminated. So, the Yankees need Cleveland to win all four of those games against Kansas City and have the Mariners lose at least three of four against Toronto. If the Yankees sweep Baltimore, they would be one game back of the Indians, a half-game back of Kansas City and would be tied with Seattle. That would set up an interesting final three games of the season.
Momentum: Derek Jeter has all the momentum, with two hits in each of his first four games on this final homestand. The Yankees have won four of their last five games, including winning three of four against the Blue Jays. The Orioles, who have won the AL East crown, lost two of three games to the Red Sox heading into this series. They won three of four games against the Yankees a week and a half ago.
Who's Hot: Jeter, Tanaka and Greene are on the rise with the Yankees. Read more in our 3 Up column for the week that was here. For Baltimore, Nelson Cruz is 10-for-25 (.400) over his last six games with three doubles and four RBI. ... Alejandro De Aza is batting .300 over his last five games with three doubles, a triple and three RBI. ... Adam Jones has five hits, including two home runs, and five RBI over his last five games. ... Norris, who pitches Wednesday, has gone two straight starts without allowing a run, beating the Yankees and Blue Jays.
Who's Not: Chris Capuano, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran are on the not list. Read more in our 3 Down column for the week here. For Baltimore, Caleb Johnson is 0-for-13 over his last four games. ... J.J. Hardy is 1-for-19 (.053) over his last five games. ... Chen, who starts Monday, allowed just two runs in his last start, but he did allow nine hits.
Looking Ahead: The Yankees travel to Boston for three games against the Red Sox starting Friday night. It will likely be the final three games of Jeter's career.