Yanks squander chance to clinch wild card berth

The Yankees have avoided talking about the wild card as their entry into postseason play as they held out hope of winning the American League East title against overwhelming odds. That hope faded for good Wednesday when the Blue Jays won the day game of a separate-admission doubleheader at Baltimore for their first division championship in 22 years.

The Yankees had a chance to clinch a wild card berth Wednesday night with a victory over the Red Sox combined with a loss by two of the following four teams: the Twins, Angels, Astros or Rangers. The Twinkies and the Halos cooperated by getting beat. That left it up to the Yankees to win at Yankee Stadium in order to spray champagne in getting back to the postseason for the first time in three years.

The Yanks could not hold up their end of the bargain and still face a magic number that is down to one. They were defeated for the third straight night by the Red Sox, who have moved into third place in the AL East since coming to the Bronx this week. Boston blew a 4-1 lead but came back to push the game into extra innings and won, 9-5, in 11.

Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the sixth with a solo home run (No. 33). Then with two down in the seventh, Dellin Betances entered in relief of a very effective Justin Wilson and allowed a game-tying home run to Mookie Betts, who had quite a night for the Red Sox amid a very impressive series.

The Red Sox busted out in the 11th against Andrew Bailey and Chasen Shreve. Bailey was touched for three singles in letting the Red Sox take the lead. Jackie Bradley drove in the second run with a suicide squeeze off Shreve, who then gave up a two-run home run to Betts, who is batting .400 with four runs, three doubles, three home runs and four RBI in 15 at-bats in the series.

The Yankees cannot say they did not have opportunities. They were retired in order in only one of the 11 innings and left 15 runners on base. They were 3-for-14 (.214) with runners in scoring position. It was a particularly brutal game for Didi Gregorius, who was 0-for-5 and stranded 10 runners, seven in scoring position.

The Yankees were challenged early as Travis Shaw smacked a three-run home run off Masahiro Tanaka with two out in the first inning.

Tanaka was making his first start in 12 days since he sustained a hamstring strain running out a ground ball at Citi Field. It has been generally assumed that Tanaka would get the call to start the wild-card playoff game Oct. 6, so Wednesday night’s start was viewed as a tuneup.

The Japanese righthander labored through the first inning on 36 pitches, not the way to begin an important start. Teammates came to his rescue, however, rebounding from a 4-1 deficit in the fifth to tie the score against Boston starter Wade Miley.

Doubles by Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran around a one-out walk to Rodriguez accounted for the first run of the inning. A decision by Shaw at first base to get the sure out there on a grounder by Brian McCann instead of trying to throw out the 40-year-old A-Rod at the plate led to another run with Beltran going to third. He scored the tying run on a hard single by Chris Young off third baseman Deven Marrero.

Miley loaded the bases with walks to Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder, but Didi Gregorius flied out to left. The rally meant a no-decision rather than a possible losing decision for Tanaka, who came out after the fifth. Refsnyder had hits in his first two at-bats, including an RBI double in the second.

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