Do you know what is completely ridiculous? Despite Sunday’s walk-off win over the Red Sox, the Yankees got absolutely demolished these last four days — every one of New York’s flaws were not-so-gently exposed by a clearly superior Boston team — and yet, they did not lose any ground in the second wildcard race. They came into the four-game series three back in the loss column, and that’s exactly where they sit right now. They’re lucky the Rays forgot how to win out on the West Coast.
I’m not sure what positive can be taken from Sunday’s game other than the actual win in the standings. Hiroki Kuroda had his best start in about a month, holding the Red Sox to two runs in six tough innings. He threw a season-high 117 pitches and really had to battle. Boston wore him out. I guess a non-disaster start is a positive. Shawn Kelley rebounded from a triceps issue throw a scoreless inning, but he did put the tying run at third base in the process. Robinson Cano stayed hot with three hits, including the big two-out, two-run double in the fifth inning. Ichiro Suzuki and Alex Rodriguez also had two hits apiece. Ichiro scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch (!), which felt like the only possible way that run was coming in to score.
Now, the bad news: Mariano Rivera blew another save, his seventh of the year and fifth in his last eleven save chances. It was another location mistake, the kind we aren’t used to seeing from Mo, and Will Middlebrooks took advantage with a game-tying solo homer out into the short porch. Considering the magnitude of both this game and every game left this year, I thought Joe Girardi was absolutely right to send Rivera out for two innings. He’ll have the rest of his life to rest in a few weeks and it just didn’t work out. Should the Yankees replace Mo at closer given his recent struggles? No way, especially not with David Robertson out with a shoulder issue. His recent blow save-itis is (very) troubling, but there’s no one on this team I’d rather have out there with a one-run lead in the ninth. Not in a million years.
I think all the recent base-running mistakes and ill-timed bunts are an indication the Yankees, or at least some of them, are pressing given the tight race and all of that. I mean, Mark freaking Reynolds tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt with two on and no outs in the second inning against Jon Lester, a left-handed pitcher. Curtis Granderson tried to bunt for a base hit to beat the shift against a right-hander in the early innings a) with two outs and no one on, and b) with two on and no outs in recent days as well. More than a few players — Alfonso Soriano on Thursday night, most egregiously — have run into outs on the bases. A little “don’t try to do too much, stick to your game, blah blah blah” reminder might be in order.
Sorry I don’t have a more detailed recap, but I was busy running around for most of the day and mostly Gameday’d it on my phone. Considering how awful the first three games of the series went, I can’t say I was heartbroken over missing this one despite the win. MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Like I said, the Yankees remain three games back of the Rays in the loss column for that second wildcard spot. Both the Indians and Rays are one game up on New York as well. Cool Standings gives the Yankees a 10.1% chance to make the postseason with 19 games to go. CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman open the four-game set in Baltimore on Monday night.