The Yankees had two chances to clinch homefield advantage in Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles … and two losses later, they had wasted both of them.
Ivan Nova started the opener and capped off his disappointing campaign with another dud. Following the game, Nova summed up his season with one word: “Bad.” Yup, that pretty much describes this: 6-11 , 5.07 ERA, 63 strikeouts, 33 walks.
He is the third Yankee starter in the last 20 years to finish a season with a win percentage below. 400, an ERA above 5.00 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio below 2.0, joining Darrell Rasner (2008) and David Cone (2000). Neither of those guys pitched another inning for the Yankees after those seasons.
Nova wasn’t the only Yankee pitcher who struggled in the afternoon. Chasen Shreve’s nightmare, late-season meltdown somehow reached a new low in the first game, too. Brought in to get the final out of the sixth inning, he allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base and four Orioles crossed the plate while he was on the mound (two inherited runners plus two of his own).
This was the fourth straight appearance that he gave up at least one hit and then was pulled after getting no more than one out. No other Yankee pitcher has put together a streak like that in the last 100 years.
The end result of the second game was the same as the first one, but don’t blame Luis Severino. The 21-year-old delivered a good-but-not-great outing in his final start of the regular season and put the finishing touches on a historic rookie campaign.
His 2.89 ERA is the third-lowest in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) by any Yankee pitcher to make at least 10 starts in his age-21 season or younger, and his WHIP of 1.20 is the second-lowest. The two guys ahead of him in ERA are Whitey Ford (2.81 in 1950) and Bill Stafford (2.68 in 1961), and Stafford is (1.16) the only with a better WHIP than Severino (1.20).
Dellin Betances coughed up the winning run with his ninth wild pitch of the season in the eighth inning. His nine wild pitches are the second-most in a season by Yankee pitcher who didn’t start any games, behind Sparky Lyle’s 10 in 1977.
It was also the first earned run he’d allowed on the road since August 27, 2014. His streak of 38 consecutive road appearances without giving up an earned run was one shy of the longest by any major-league pitcher, a record shared by Javier Lopez (2013-14) and Pedro Feliciano (2006-07).
The end, finally
The Yankees finished the regular season just like they started it … with a loss. And going back further, remember when the Yankees lost six of their first nine games to begin the season — well, they lost six of their final nine game to end the season, too. Deja vu all over again.
It was just the third time in the last 20 seasons the Yankees were swept in their final series of the season: in 2000 they lost their last seven games and 2011 they ended the season on a four-game losing streak.
The loss also was their tenth in 19 games vs. the Orioles this season, the second year in a row they lost the season series with Baltimore. It’s the first time they’ve lost consecutive season series against the O’s since losing three in a row from 1980-82.
So, the Yankees finished the season with 87 wins, their third straight season with fewer than 90 wins. The last time they had a streak like this was a seven-season stretch during the darkest days of the franchise in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The only other time they qualified for the playoffs (excluding strike seasons) with fewer than 90 wins was in 2000 (87 wins). So maybe a glimmer of optimism?
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s do-or-die playoff game, the Yankees are the Wild Card team for the fifth time in team history, but the first time since the new format began in 2012. The Yankees have advanced past the ALDS round just once in their previous four appearances as the Wild Card — in 2010 when they lost the ALCS to the Rangers. They’ve never reached the World Series as a Wild Card team.