A sweep of any division rival is sweet, but the Yankees got slapped back into reality last night in the first game of their weekend series against the Rays. Beating up on the AL East doormat Blue Jays was a huge help in bringing the Yankees back into the playoff picture. If they really want to stay in that picture, however, they have to beat the good teams in their division too. Heading into the final 5 weeks of the regular season, they'll have plenty of opportunities to do so.
The Yanks have 34 games remaining this season, 25 of them against AL East opponents. Only 10 of them will be at home, with 15 on the road, and 19 of them are against the Rays, Orioles, and Red Sox. They're in the middle of a 16-game stretch against nothing but AL East teams and even after last night's loss they're still 6-2 in those 8 games, so they're off to a good start. They've got 3 more against the Jays on the road and then 3 against the O's at home after this series, and if they want to keep moving forward in the playoff race they can't have more results like last night's.
6 back in the division, 4 back from the second Wild Card, and plenty of games against 3 of the teams ahead of them in those races. The Yankees have done a great job dragging themselves out of their grave these last 2 weeks, and they now control a small part of their destiny. If this is really a playoff-caliber team, they need to prove it against their main playoff chase competition.