No fun at Fenway for Yanks except Mo
It turned out to be a lost weekend in Boston for the Yankees, who get a needed day off Monday – their first after playing 17 straight dates – before moving on to Toronto where they hope to turn the tide as time continues to run out in their quest for a postseason berth.
The Yankees had a chance to make some headway in their pursuit of an American League wild-card slot in the playoffs because the Rangers and the Rays both lost Sunday. But then, so did the Yankees in a 9-2 drubbing by the Red Sox. The Yanks failed to take advantage of a somewhat wild Clay Buchholz (four walks, one hit batter, one wild pitch), who limited them to two hits and went on to raise his unbeaten record to 11-0.
Unfortunately for the Bombers, Ivan Nova proved equally as wild as Buchholz, perhaps more so. The righthander also had four walks (one intentional), a hit batter and a wild pitch, but he hit a few too many bats as well. The Red Sox tagged him for five runs (four earned) and six hits, one of them a home run by Mike Napoli, who tortured Yankees pitching all season (.375, 7 HR, 20 RBI). The staff was probably close to giving plate umpire Ron Kulpa a standing ovation when he ejected Napoli for throwing his helmet and making derogatory comments after he was called out on strikes in sixth inning.
Nova, who was the AL Pitcher of the Month for August, is now 0-1 with two no-decisions and a 7.07 ERA in September. His failure to get an out in the fifth inning forced manager Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen early and, as it turned out, often. Six relievers followed Nova into the game, but the Red Sox continued to put up runs. Boston’s victory officially eliminated the Yankees from the AL East race, which leaves the wild-card entry their only possible ticket into postseason play.
It continues to get difficult for the Yankees in that mission. The Indians won again and are now only one game behind the Rangers and Rays in the loss column and three games ahead of the Yankees, who also slinked one game back of Baltimore in the loss column. Toronto could be an oasis for the Yankees, who are 13-3 against the Blue Jays this year although only 3-3 at Rogers Centre.
That Tampa Bay and Texas play each other this week is not all that beneficial to the Yankees because it means that one of them will win each day. The Indians play the Royals, who have an even more slender thread than the Yankees, whom Kansas City trails by a game. The Yanks can only hope that Boston treats Baltimore just as roughly when the Orioles come to Fenway Park for a three-game set starting Tuesday night.
The Yankees also received more troubling medical news. While Alfonso Soriano returned to the lineup and played despite a sprained right thumb, Alex Rodriguez had to come out of the game in the fifth inning because of a tight right calf. Mix that with a nagging left hamstring and artificial turf in Toronto it forms a combination that bodes poorly for A-Rod and the Yankees.
About the only Yankees player who had any fun at all Sunday night was Mariano Rivera, who was saluted by the Red Sox organization and a surprisingly appreciative crowd at Fenway. Mo signed dozens and dozens of autographs before, during and after the game and even took pen in hand to leave a message on a wall in the visitors’ bullpen:
“Mariano Rivera. Last player to wear No. 42. Thanks for everything.”
The fans at Fenway with their sincere applause seemed to be saying, “You’re welcome.”