A loss on Sunday would not have eliminated the Yankees from postseason contention, it only felt like it would have. Dropping three straight to a division rival who also happens to be one of the teams you’re chasing at this point of the year is pretty close to a disaster. The Yankees walked the tightrope in the series finale against the Rays before eking out the extra innings win. The final score was 3-2 in eleven.
I’m still out of town and didn’t see a single pitch of the game — it’s rather liberating, I recommend taking a weekend away from baseball every so often — but this looks like a classic “shaky but made a pitch when he had to” start for Ivan Nova. He walked six (one intentional) and has now put 46 (!) men on base in his last four starts and 27 innings. That’s way too many. Alfonso Soriano created the winning run with a double to left before stealing third, a ballsy move that helped win the game. Curtis Granderson, who was quietly been awesome since coming off the DL, plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.
Two questions: One, why didn’t Alex Rodriguez pinch-hit for Lyle Overbay against the lefty pitcher with two outs and two on in a one-run game in the sixth? Winning has to take priority over getting A-Rod a full day of rest at this point. Besides, he’ll have plenty of time to rest when he gets suspended after the season. Two, using Shawn Kelley for one batter was really foolish. Ideally David Robertson would have finished off the seventh before pitching the eighth, allowing Kelley throw a full inning (or more) later in the game. Oh well, Robertson did go two innings though. Still some weird managerial decisions there.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles pounded the Athletics, so the Yankees are four games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 10.9%. The Bombers open a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday, when Phil Hughes gets the ball against reigning NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
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Roster Update: Preston Claiborne will be sent down to clear a roster spot for Derek Jeter on Monday, which is preposterous. If the Yankees are trying to win, they have no business keeping Joba Chamberlain over Claiborne or anyone else in that bullpen. I assume Claiborne will go to High-A Tampa since their season ends on September 1st, allowing the team to circumvent the ten-day rule and bring him back on the 2nd. Hopefully the Yankees come to their senses and decide to keep him over Joba at some point in the next 24 hours.
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Minor League Update: All of the box scores are available right here. 1B Greg Bird drew a walk — he’s two away from a hundred with seven games to play — and RHP Jose Campos threw two scoreless innings of relief. Not much else happened. Triple-A Scranton was officially eliminated from postseason contention with their loss.