The Yankees and some of their fans have been clinging to Yogi Berra‘s immortal words “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” for the better part of September as they have been making an improbable and unlikely final Wild Card push, pulling from 11.5 back of the Wild Card to 6.5 back with 13 games to go.
They still had 6 games left with Toronto in the final 12 games and really kind of needed to win all of them.
Well they lost the first one: Toronto 7 Yankees 1 on a Tuesday night at the Stadium.
It’s not over, but losing this one and losing on Sunday to Pittsburgh put the Yanks 7 games back of the Wild Card with 11 games to play.
Imagine if the Yankees had won those 2 games.
Instead the Yankee offense didn’t show up, again. They scored 1 run. Clarke Schmidt wasn’t at his best, allowing 4 runs in 5 innings. It was a 4-1 game until the 9th when Zach McAllister allowed 3 runs to put the game away.
“We’re still in it,” said Clarke Schmidt afterwards when asked why the Yanks are in this predicament. “So I’m not going to sit here and cast it and say we’re done. We just had to do a better job of executing and getting the job done early on in the season and not letting some of those games slip away. It’s a long season but every game matters and that ultimately catches up to you.”
NY falls to 74-73, 7 games back of the final Wild Card; Toronto improves to 84-67.
1. Schmidt Not At His Best
Clarke Schmidt allowed a homerun to George Springer leading off the top of the 1st and just like that Toronto was up 1-0.
After that Schmidt motored through the 2nd and 3rd with 1-2-3 innings, before allowing a run in the 4th on 2 singles sandwiching a throwing error by Oswald Peraza at 3rd.
So it was a 2-1 game, Toronto, in the bottom of the 5th when Schmidt got the first 2 outs, and then went 0-2 on Springer but walked him. Bo Bichette followed with a homerun and it was 4-1 Toronto.
“I felt like the 0-2 pitch was really close with the sinker in,” said Schmidt afterwards. “Just a tough AB. Those first 3 hitters are really, really good. You gotta kind of control them to control the game. I feel we did a good job with the other guys, but let it slip, specifically to Bichette and obviously Springer.”
“Just not as sharp overall,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards about Schmidt. “Missed with some cutters. We were talking before the game about how strike throwing has become a real strength for him this year, and probably just wasn’t as sharp tonite. Still had a chance there in that 5th — 2 outs, nobody on, loses (George) Springer and the long ball gets him. So had a chance to still put together a really good outing, but just overall probably not the quality strikes we’ve been used to seeing with him.”
Schmidt’s line: 5 innings, 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 strikeout, 2 walks — he goes to 9-9 4.65.
2. Kukuchi Stifles Yanks Despite Lost Sleep
Meanwhile Yusei Kikuchi was on the hill for Toronto. The Yanks got to him with a run in the bottom of the 1st to tie the game 1-1, as Aaron Judge singled with 1 out, and Gleyber Torres doubled him home.
But after that Kikuchi shut out the Yanks thru 5 — despite allowing a leadoff single in the 2nd and 3rd innings as well as the 1st. Gleyber grounded into a double play to end the 3rd and Kikuchi sailed thru the 4th and 5th with 1-2-3 innings before walking DJ LeMahieu to lead off the 6th and leaving due to cramps.
Afterwards, Kikuchi said the cramps may have been caused by only getting 11 (eleven) hours of sleep last night instead of his usual 13 or 14 hours (thirteen or fourteen).
3. Finger Points at Giancarlo
Down 4-1, with runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out — Giancarlo Stanton stepped up and hit a grounder to the 3rd base side of shortstop, that Bo Bichette turned into a double play — Stanton running down the line slowly. Boos rang down at Yankee Stadium at Stanton.
Stanton has been running gingerly so as not to reinjure the hamstring that he pulled earlier in the season, and may be the slowest runner in baseball. He is now sporting a .190 batting average and all fingers of blame on Yankee twitter pointed to him. He would go 0-4 in the game, with 2 strikeouts and 2 double plays hit into.
“Look it’s obviously been a struggle,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards when asked how disappointing Giancarlo has been to him. “He just having a hard time getting on one of those really hot grooves where he goes a month at a time. He hasn’t had that stretch — part of it has been due to injury early, getting back. He’s had some moments, but just hasn’t gotten in consistently night in and night out those really strong hitting positions that allows him to keep his bat in the hitting zone a long time and give him that margin of error that you need as a hitter. Along the way obviously he’s gotten some big hits for us. But overall it’s been a struggle.”
When asked if this was going to be the Stanton we’d see from now on — someone who was protective of lower-half injuries to stay on the field, Boone said, “We’ll see. We gotta look into it and get him into the best possible situation in the off season and heading into Spring training.”
4. Ramirez and Weissert Do Well; McAllister Doesn’t
Nick Ramirez pitched a shutout 6th and 7th, and Greg Weissert a shutout 8th. The two are opposites that look like each other — both sporting a mustache on a rounded face — even though Ramirez is a lefty and Weissert a righty.
5. Stanton Ends It with a DP
- Aaron Judge got 2 hits (2 for 4) to raise his average back to .257 from .254.
- Gleyber Torres got 2 hits (2 for 4) to raise his average to .272.