Yanks’ playoff hopes vanish despite sweep of Red Sox
The Yankees got revenge on the Red Sox for that four-game sweep at Fenway Park two weeks ago by completing a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium Thursday night, but there was little to celebrate afterward because they were finally eliminated from playoff consideration in the 159th game of the season.
The killing blow was the Orioles’ 4-0 victory at Toronto, a game that ended while the Yanks and Red Sox were still playing. It was Baltimore’s 87th victory and tied the O’s with Toronto for the first American League wild card position. The Yankees can win no more than 86 games, so their playoff hopes have vanished.
The Orioles will come to town Friday night for the start of a season-ending, three-game series with still plenty at stake for them. The Tigers, who were rained out, and the Mariners, who opened a four-game set at Seattle against the Athletics, are still within striking distance of a wild card berth.
The Yankees have won four straight games, but a 3-11 stretch Sept. 11-25 with that 3-8 trip through Boston, St. Pete and Toronto was a dagger in the heart of their playoff chances. To be in the hunt this long in a season that took a rebuilding turn of events was nonetheless a positive for the Yankees.
Despite dealing Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova before the non-waiver trade deadline for mostly prospects, the Yankees made a strong second-half run behind the heroics of catcher Gary Sanchez, who has emerged as a Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate.
Sanchez had a rough go of it Thursday night at the plate (0-for-5, four strikeouts) but was his usual forceful self behind it in guiding CC Sabathia through a strong outing. The big lefthander ended a stretch of six winless starts with his first victory since Aug. 23.
A solo home run by Xander Bogaerts in the fourth inning was the lone blemish on the night for Sabathia, who allowed only three other hits and two walks with eight strikeouts to finish the season with a 9-12 record and an ERA below 4.00 (3.91), his lowest since 2012 (3.38).
With his his 223rd career victory, Sabathia passed Jerry Koosman for sole possession of 16th place on the all-time list for wins by left-handed pitchers. It was also CC’s 228th start for the Yankees that moved him past Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro for sole possession of 12th place on the all-time franchise list. The combined 10 strikeouts by Sabathia, Tyler Clippard and Richard Bleier raised the staff’s season total to 1,370, which ties the single-season franchise record also accomplished both last year and the year before.
Unlike so many of his starts this year, the Yankees gave Sabathia plenty of runs to work with. Starlin Castro, Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Hicks had run-scoring doubles. Tyler Austin got an RBI on a bases-loaded walk with another run scoring on a wild pitch. The Red Sox, who had clinched the AL East title the night before, had something of a makeshift lineup. In his final game at the Stadium, David Ortiz was honored in a pregame ceremony and struck out and walked in his two plate appearances before coming out of the game in the fourth inning.