By Joe Pantorno
Now isn’t the time for the Yankees to take their foot off the gas pedal.
After reeling off a 10-game winning streak that featured 85 runs and 29 home runs, the Yankees backed into a playoff spot on Sunday following a loss to the Boston Red Sox before dropping Monday’s series opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.
With it, they entered Tuesday as the No. 5 seed of the American League with six games remaining.
Should the Yankees not be able to catch the No. 4 Minnesota Twins over the final stretch, they’ll be playing the Wild Card round — a best-of-three series — entirely on the road before Major League Baseball enters its postseason bubble.
Under Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff format this year, eight teams instead of five in each league make the postseason, a style that could very well be sticking around for a while.
As the No. 5 seed, the Yankees would be playing the Twins in the Wild Card round if things stood as is. That should have the organization and its fans salivating considering the kind of success the Yankees have had against Minnesota during the postseason.
After last season’s sweep in the ALDS, the Yankees have won 13 straight postseason games against the Twins, which is the longest win streak by any team against a single opponent in playoff history.
But there isn’t much room for error to ensure they get that first-round matchup, regardless of what venue it’s being played in.
The Cleveland Indians are just one game behind the Yankees in the American League standings entering Tuesday night while New York’s opponent this week, the Blue Jays, are three games back and desperate to fend off the No. 8 Houston Astros.
“We are where we need to be,’’ Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. “We have to try and solidify these last few games to get home field. We know that but we are right where we need to be. We understand how important the last games of the season are.’’