"If we can get back to Yankee Stadium from Baltimore with as big a lead as we have now," Houk told Leonard Koppett of the New York Post, "I'll feel we're pretty well set for the rest of the season." As it turned out, the Yankees were lucky to get back alive. They lost all five.
After the final loss, different Yankees had different things to say. "We had a good safe lead coming into Baltimore," Bobby Richardson said. "We felt that even if we just split, we'd be all right. That isn't bearing down enough." Someone suggested to Ralph Houk that the six-game losing streak might indicate a trend. Houk bristled. "I wouldn't go betting too damn much money against us the rest of the way," he said. Only Whitey Ford, who had just lost a tough game, managed to keep his sense of humor. "It seems we've been on the road for three months," he said. "We'll be okay as soon as we get home to mamma."
Curiously, the Yankees' lead didn't shrink as much as it might have during the consecutive losses, because neither Minnesota nor Los Angeles could win consistently. The Yankee lead was still three games when they returned home to the Stadium. But neither the Stadium—nor mamma—halted their decline. They split four games with Cleveland, and the lead was pared to two over the Twins, three over the Angels. At week's end the Yankee lead was still a slim one, just about the right size to guarantee a full house at the Stadium when Los Angeles moved into New York for the big four-game series.
Even so, it seemed impossible that the Yankees could lose the pennant to either the Twins or the Angels. Of the three teams, the Yankees have the softest September schedule, and they are the undisputed world champions at the sport of winning-the-ones-you-need. "Let's see how those other guys act when they really get a chance," said Yogi Berra. The Yankees probably will win, just as they always win. Someday they're going to play it too close and get clipped—but not this year.
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