A rough start to the month was compounded when the Yankees were swept in Boston, then managed to win just one of three against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. That allowed Boston to surge ahead to a lead in the American League East. Alex Rodriguez was immune to the team's woes, hitting 14 home runs in the month to tie the Major League record, but Mariano Rivera didn't pick up his first save until the 28th, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
Another disappointing month for the Yankees included losing the opening Subway Series against the Mets and getting swept by the Angels at home. Hope arrived in the form of Roger Clemens, who was promoted to the Major League team at the end of the month after warmup starts in the Minor Leagues. At one point, the Yankees found themselves 10 games out of first place.
An eight-game winning streak couldn't have come at a better time, as the Yankees kept themselves in the race. Joe Torre enjoyed a rare positive moment in the spotlight, as he picked up his 2,000th victory as a manager. Things turned sour again at the end of the month, with series losses to the cellar-dwelling San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles. To jump-start his club, Torre tried canceling pregame batting practice before the final game against the Orioles. The game was delayed by rain, with the Yankees winning when it was resumed in July.
The team's most successful month yet rekindled hopes that the Bronx would see playoff action in October. Clemens began to hit his stride, but the real action was on offense. Robinson Cano picked up Player of the Week honors after hitting 11-for-18 with six RBIs in a series against Tampa Bay, and the rest of the hitters also shone in that series, including a 21-4 victory at Yankee Stadium. The month ended with a pair of double-digit wins, as the team defeated Baltimore, 10-6, and Chicago, 16-3.
August began with a blast from Rodriguez -- the 500th home run of his career, and an event that could be just one of many milestones ahead for the slugger. The team won 10 of its next 12, and hype built as the Red Sox came to town for a big series, which the Yankees swept to re-establish themselves as a contender in the AL East. The weekend was highlighted by Clemens, who threw six innings of no-hit ball in a victory over the Sox. It's never boring off the field in New York, and August was no exception, as Jason Giambi was questioned by the Commissioner's Office about his use of performance-enhancing substances but was not disciplined because of his cooperation.
The Yankees won a critical early-September series with the Mariners, taking two of three to extend their lead over the AL Wild Card contenders to three games. They followed with five wins in their next six games leading up to their final regular-season series with Boston, which yielded two New York wins. The closest the Yankees would get to the Red Sox was 1 1/2 games, but with a win at Tampa Bay on Sept. 26, New York secured its 13th consecutive postseason berth.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.