After a 9-1 homestand that vaulted them into first place, the Yankees now embark on a nine-game road trip that will take them through Tampa Bay, Chicago and Toronto. The Yankees are comfortably ahead of the Rays at the moment, but taking two of three or sweeping would do a good deal of damage to the Rays mentally as well as putting them almost ten games back in the loss column.
It is also vital for New York to come away with a winning road trip in general. Most teams have a difficult time on the road (i.e. the Red Sox and Rays) so the fact the Yankees are four games over .500 on the road could be the difference maker in the division race.
They have all their best arms lined up for the Rays and Matt Garza is the only starter they will face who has had recent success when he dueled with Roy Halladay for nine innings in Toronto. If the pitching can stay the course as they have for the first nine games in the second half then they can put some distant between themselves and the Red Sox and Rays.
Right now the staff ERA stands at 2.90 over the first 90 innings of the second half. That number is bound to go up but so to should the offense which right now isn't quite playing up to its potential. The Yanks are scoring 4.8 runs per game, which is respectable, but still short of the 5.6 they were averaging in the first half. If they can get the offense to click with this pitching hot streak then the Bombers could put together a serious run and maybe create some space before they take on the Sox in less than two weeks.