The only thing separating this year's Yankees from last year's Red Sox is timing.
The Red Sox collapsed at the end of September in 2011, costing them a playoff spot and leading to one folly after another that wound up sinking them this season as well.
The Yankees' nosedive has taken place in late August and early September, which means that there are still 27 games left for them to make it right.
"Nothing changes," Derek Jeter said after the game. "We play everybody. How many games do we have left? 27? If we win all of them, we’re good, right? So if we play well, we don’t have to worry about anyone else."
It must be said that watching Jeter say those words leaves a different impression than just watching them. This isn't Jeter refusing to acknowledge how seriously messed up things have gotten for the Yankees, it's just a guy with a lot of faith in himself who wants reassurance that things can still go their way.
It's getting harder and harder to believe that can happen. They lost for the 10th time in 14 games on Tuesday in Tampa, a 5-2 loss that unfolded much like the rest of the losses in this string, and now find themselves tied with the Orioles at the top of the AL East.
And, should that not feel crushing enough, they are just 1.5 games up on the Rays in the race for the second Wild Card. If things don't get moving in the other direction immediately, the Yankees are going to wake up without a playoff spot with time getting awfully short.
The Yankees have blown the 10-game division lead they held on July 18th, with a lead that once felt wider than the Grand Canyon shrinking down to nothing in the blink of an eye. And there isn't just one thing to blame for the downturn because we've got a total system failure on our hands.
The Yankees have had no more than six hits for five straight games, the first time that's happened since 1990 when a team managed by Stump Merrill won 67 games in the entire season. Picking one hitter that stands out of that garbage pile isn't easy, unless you watch Nick Swisher look totally overmatched on one of the many times he looks totally overmatched every single night.
Robinson Cano's homer put the Yankees up 2-0 in the first and they threatened in the next two innings before taking the rest of the night off to set their fantasy football lineups. This lineup is too good for that to happen as often as this is happening to the Yankees.
Freddy Garcia gave up three homers on Tuesday, right in line for a rotation that is destined to give up more homers than any other in Yankee history. More damning than the homers is that all three of them were hit on two-strike counts, which is pretty much the pitching equivalent of blowing a 10-game divisional lead over the course of 40-odd games.
It's enough to make you blow your top, which Joe Girardi finally did during a dispute with the home plate umpire after a Chris Dickerson strikeout. It was actually nice to see Girardi go nuts like that because he's spent this stretch looking tense enough to go on a Falling Down style spree if he didn't blow off a little bit of steam.
There are 27 games left to play and the Yankees have no cushion left. It's going to be quite a September in the Bronx.