Yankees try to give away wildcard

Masahiro Tanaka meets with Yankee catcher Brian McCann.  AP Photo by Kathy Willens/Getty Images
Masahiro Tanaka meets with Yankee catcher Brian McCann.
AP Photo by Kathy Willens/Getty Images

For what seemed like forever, the Yankees were gonna make the playoffs. And while that still seems probable with them needing just one win to finally guarantee themselves of meaningful baseball in October, they are trying to give away the wildcard.

Case in point, with a chance to clinch the Yanks lost to the Red Sox 9-5 at a lifeless Stadium. It was their third consecutive defeat to their bitter rival. While the Blue Jays were busy spraying champagne this afternoon following a 15-2 dismantling of the Orioles, the Yankees couldn’t get out of their own way. After spotting Boston a 4-1 lead, they rallied to it with three in the fifth. Alex Rodriguez’ solo shot in the home sixth gave them a 5-4 lead.

But once again, Dellin Betances couldn’t protect a lead. He served up a solo home run to Mookie Betts. Betances has struggled for about a month getting batters out. Whether it be walks due his command or the long ball which has become an issue, he has not be the same pitcher. In fact, all six homers he’s allowed have come since July. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi takes part of the blame for continuing to overuse Betances by bringing him into the seventh.

Not having a dependable seventh inning guy since moving Adam Warren to the rotation has hurt. Justin Wilson isn’t that guy and Chasen Shreve continues to struggle. He served up Betts’ second dinger of the night in a 4-run Boston 11th that broke a 5-5 tie. Andrew Bailey continues to serve meatballs. The former A’s closer gave up three earned on three hits in one-third. Why does he continue to be run out there?

Girardi has leaned heavily on Betances and Andrew Miller all season. As Girardi’s lack of trust has increased, their workload has doubled. He has taxed his two best. Assuming the Yanks get the one win or loss they need, how much will they have left for the postseason? Would you bet on them right now even if they host the Angels in the wildcard next Tuesday? It’s not looking good.

Masahiro Tanaka wasn’t sharp allowing four earned in five innings. He should be Tuesday’s starter. It’s not like they can trust the inconsistent Michael Pineda, who allowed seven earned including a six-run first in a lopsided 10-4 loss to the Red Sox. You could make a case for talented rookie Luis Severino who outside of one poor outing to the powerhouse Jays has pitched to a 2.77 earned run average over 10 starts with a 5-3 record. But that would be too much pressure on a 21-year old. He’s the future of the rotation. With 50 strikeouts in 55-plus innings, Severino shows promise.

As for the Yankee bats, if they’re not going deep it’s pointless. They never get anyone in from third with less than two outs. They continue to find ways to not score runs. In the eighth, they drew four walks but didn’t score due to Jacoby Ellsbury getting picked off. Brett Gardner left the bases loaded by bouncing out weakly.

Outside of Carlos Beltran, Greg Bird and Rodriguez, there hasn’t been much production from anyone else. Brian McCann is without a home run since Sept. 19. His average is down to .234. He does have an RBI in each of the last three games. Didi Gregorius also has been solid but stranded 10 runners going 0-for-5. Overall, the Yankees left 23.

C.C. Sabathia opposes red hot lefty Rich Hill Thursday night in the final Yankee home game of the regular season. Since being recalled, Hill has made three starts and struck out 10 batters in each game. In fact, his last start was a complete game two-hit shutout of the Orioles. In 23 innings, he’s 2-0 with two walks and 30 K’s. If he pitches lights out again, you’re looking at a four-game Red Sox sweep. An embarrassing way for the Yanks to finish at home.

Thanks to the Angeles losing to lowly Oakland, the Yanks still are three up for the first wildcard. At last check, the Astros had come back to take a 7-6 lead on the Mariners. A win would put them within two and a half. They would go half a game up on the Halos for the second wildcard. With a split of a doubleheader, the Twins are 82-76 a game out pending the Astros/Mariners result.

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Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.

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