Yankee Can Facing Breather

BOSTON — When the Yankees polished off a four-game sweep of the Mets last Thursday night, they could not contain their glee on Twitter. Above a screen grab of the final score of each game, the Yankees posted a message: Bend the knee. It was punctuated with a crown emoji.

Never mind that the Mets had been brought to their knees long ago in a season that had disintegrated from World Series hopes in March to a roster sell-off in August.

There was a time when the Yankees used to reserve their chest thumping for October, when they would let their victories speak for themselves. But playoff success has been harder to come by in the Bronx in recent years, and so maybe it made sense to flex their muscles when they had the chance.

The good news for the Yankees, after series losses to the Boston Red Sox on consecutive weekends left them further behind their traditional American League rival in the standings than they were two weeks ago — by four and a half games, after Boston lost in Cleveland on Monday — is that they now have a chance to regroup. With Boston behind them for now, they get off their own knee and have the opportunity to go back to beating up on another team that has run up the white flag this season, the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers (54-69), like the Mets, seem to be looking beyond their lost season. They have traded away outfielder J. D. Martinez, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila for prospects, and they were even talking with the Houston Astros this month about a deal for their recently rejuvenated ace, Justin Verlander.

A scheduled day off Monday and the Tigers might be just the breather the Yankees need before diving into what could be a grueling final stretch of the season as they try to find a way into the playoffs, either by chasing down the Red Sox or by holding off a crowded field for one of the league’s two wild-card berths. In that race, the Yankees held a two-and-a-half-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins before Monday.

The Yankees, who still have to squeeze in a makeup game with Kansas City, will have only two more scheduled days off the rest of the season. They are set to play 16 days in a row beginning Tuesday. Then, after a day off Sept. 7, they are scheduled to play 13 consecutive days.