The Yankees are officially on the brink of elimination from postseason contention after dropping Tuesday night’s game to the Orioles by the score of 5-4. Even if they win all five of their remaining games, they’ll still need help to play in October.
Brandon McCarthy’s last start of the season — and possibly his last start for the Yankees — did not go so well. He allowed five runs on eleven hits in only 5.1 innings, and three of those eleven hits left the yard. McCarthy allowed three homers in his first 58.1 innings with the team and has now allowed seven homers in his last 33 innings. That was bound to happen at some point. Yankees’ pitchers always seem to struggle to keep the ball in the park because of Yankee Stadium.
The eleven hits were a personal season-high for McCarthy and a few of them were weak grounders that found holes. One literally went through Mark Teixeira’s legs at first base and was ruled a hit. Don’t ask me why. McCarthy did manage to strike out eight and generate 14 swings and misses out of 92 total pitches, though he didn’t exactly miss many barrels. The Orioles had a lot of comfortable swings and just seemed to be on everything. It happens. If this was McCarthy’s final start in pinstripes, it was a bit of a letdown. Regardless, the man was outstanding during his brief time with the team. Well done, Brandon.
The Yankees were down four runs before they even recorded their first hit against Ubaldo Jimenez. Teixeira broke up the no-hit bid with a double into the right field corner with one out in the fourth. Between Brett Gardner’s leadoff walk in the first and Chase Headley’s one-out walk immediately prior to Teixeira’s double, Ubaldo retired ten straight batters. Nine of those ten batters hit the ball in the air and balls in the air tend to be high-percentage outs.
Anyway, the Yankees scored their first run when Chris Young grounded out following Teixeira’s double, allowing Headley to trot in from third. McCarthy gave that run back on a Nelson Cruz solo homer, his 40th, in the next half-inning. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the sixth but only managed one run, on Stephen Drew’s hard-hit sacrifice fly to center. Ichiro Suzuki struck out feebly — he has really mastered the art of the ugly swinging strikeout, hasn’t he? — to end the rally with men on the corners.
A two-out, two-run homer by Brian McCann off Andrew Miller brought the Yankees to within one in the seventh. Jose Pirela and Gardner made two quick outs to start the inning, but Derek Jeter beat out an infield single and McCann took advantage. Coming into Tuesday, Miller had held left-handed batters to a .152/.198/.220 (.191 wOBA) batting line with a 49.5% strikeout rate, so taking him deep was no small feat. Don’t care that it was a first row Yankee Stadium cheapie either. It was a line drive over the right fielder’s head for extra bases no matter what. Just like that, the score was 5-4.
The offense was unable to score that fifth run to tie the game, so the comeback fell short. Gardner did beat out an infield single with two outs in the ninth, but Jeter struck out to end the game. I’m pretty sure Yankee Stadium would have exploded if he managed to tie or win the game there. Alas.
McCann was the only starter with two hits. He singled in addition to the homer. Gardner, Jeter, Teixeira, and Ichiro had the other hits. Jeter’s infield single extended his hitting streak to seven games. Gardner and Young each drew one walk. Headley drew two. The Yankees went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The bullpen — Rich Hill (one out), Esmil Rogers (four outs), Dellin Betances (three outs), and David Robertson (three outs) — deserves credit for keeping the Orioles off the board and giving the offense a chance to come back. They did allow six hits in those 3.2 scoreless innings, but hey — bend, don’t break.
The Yankees allowed 17+ hits in a nine-inning game for the second time this year. The first? Against the Orioles of course, back in April. Here’s the box score. This was only the third time in team history the Yankees allowed 17+ hits and five or fewer runs in a nine-inning game. The others: May 1918 against the Red Sox (box score) and September 1925 against the Browns (box score). Crazy.
And finally, the Yankees set a new franchise single-season strikeout record when Robertson fanned Jonathan Schoop to end the ninth inning. It was their 1,319th strikeout of the season. The previous record was set two years ago. They still have another five games to pad that strikeout total.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has the other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Royals beat the Indians, so the Yankees are now five games back of the second wildcard spot with five games to play. No bueno. One more win by Kansas City or one more loss by the Yankees will officially eliminate New York from the postseason. Just for kicks, FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 0.2% right now.
These two teams will play the third game of this four-game series on Wednesday afternoon. Yes, afternoon. It’s a day game because of Rosh Hashanah. Shane Greene and Bud Norris will be the pitching matchup for the matinee. There are only two (!) home games left in the season and Jeter’s career, so make sure you head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch one of them live.