History on Yanks' side down stretch

History on Yanks' side down stretch

SEATTLE -- All season long, the Yankees have pinned a version of their schedule in each of their lockers back in the Bronx. The month of September was always available for inspection, so it should not be any surprise to see what lies ahead.

It does not get any easier for the Yankees as they prepare to attack their final 19 games of the regular season, beginning with a three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim that opens on Monday.

New York's next three series will come against clubs currently occupying first place in their respective divisions -- Angels, Rays and White Sox -- so if there is to be a rally for the ages, it will truly be of the historic variety.

"There's a few teams in history that have won that many games," Johnny Damon said. "We just have to keep going out there and playing hard, regardless of if we're knocked out of it soon or not. We still have a responsibility to go out there and play hard and see what we can do.

"We know our division is good and, granted, we haven't played well all year [except] a couple of spurts here and there. The only way for us to move up in the standings is to play better. We have not done that."

Losing two out of three to the Mariners in Seattle, the Yankees enter the final leg of their 10-game, four-city trip knowing that they no longer even have a hold on third place in the American League East. The Blue Jays crept past on Sunday, when the Yankees fell to the Mariners, 5-2, and the move did not seem to be a surprise to third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

"Toronto has been playing really well," Rodriguez said. "I'll tell you what -- a lot of people should be happy that they're not in the playoff race, because they'd be the scariest team with the one-two punch they've got over there of [Roy] Halladay and [A.J.] Burnett. They're playing good baseball."

But the Angels -- seemingly on cruise control until the AL Division Series -- are wary of what a desperate Yankees club might do once it gets to Anaheim.

"They're in a must-win situation every day," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "Every game they play is going to be like the seventh game of the World Series."

Indeed, manager Joe Girardi admits that the Yankees need to win most of their remaining 19 games just to have a shot at not closing out Yankee Stadium on Sept. 21 against the Orioles. The reality of the situation has not inspired panic.

"I've been on teams that needed to win every day," Derek Jeter said. "The deficit might be a little bigger than it's been in the past, but we've been in positions where we need to win every game."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Carl Pavano (2-0, 4.20 ERA)
Making his third start since his long absence, Pavano served up a long two-run homer to Gabe Gross in the fourth inning on Wednesday and faced two batters in the fifth before exiting, taking a no-decision in his 79-pitch outing. He allowed six hits, walking two and striking out one. Pavano took a harsher tone in evaluating his performance, saying, "I think I cheated my team." He is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two career starts against the Angels, in 2003 and '05.

LAA: RHP Jon Garland (12-8, 4.64 ERA)
Garland was hard on himself after yielding five earned runs across six innings against the Tigers on Wednesday night, but he was in position to get the win if the Tigers hadn't rallied late against the Angels' bullpen. A tear in his right thumbnail created blood, disrupting Garland in the second inning, but he stayed in the game and got through six innings against a dangerous lineup. Garland is 4-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 10 career starts against the Yankees.

Jeter is riding a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .348 (8-for-23) over that span. He has 2,518 career hits, tying him with Babe Ruth for second place on the Yankees' all-time list, and owns 205 career home runs, tying him with Dave Winfield and Rodriguez for 11th place on the Yankees' all-time list. ... Mike Mussina's seven strikeouts on Sunday gave him 1,258 as a Yankee, pushing him past Mel Stottlemyre for sixth place on the club's all-time list. ... A-Rod is hitless in three consecutive games, going 0-for-10 at Safeco Field. ... With a win on Monday, the Yankees (36-36) would join the Angels (42-28) as the only AL clubs with winning road records in 2008.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Yankees (Alfredo Aceves, 0-0, 1.29) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 10-10, 4.42), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 13-12, 4.49) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 15-5, 3.23), 3:35 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.