The Yankees can’t win the AL East, and if they deliver a stinker like they did Wednesday night, their stay in the postseason will be short and painful.
On a night the Rays clinched the AL East title by beating the Mets, the Yankees embarrassed themselves in a hard-to-look-at 14-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field in Buffalo.
Four errors, brutal relief work and failure to hit in the clutch when the outcome was still in doubt led to a loss that Aaron Boone described very honestly.
“We didn’t play well in every facet,’’ Boone said of his club’s third loss in four games. “We are a better baseball team than we showed out there tonight.’’
With one more game in Buffalo, where the Yankees are 2-4 this year, and three at home against the Marlins this weekend left in the regular season, the Yankees are in danger of entering the postseason Tuesday dazed and confused.
“It is a frustrating performance, but it has happened and we have to put it behind us and understand the amazing opportunity that sits in front of us,’’ Boone said. “We will turn the page and get after tomorrow. Errors are going to happen, mistakes are going to happen, you are going to have a bad game but we are a better team than we played tonight.’’
Exactly who the Yankees are is difficult to measure.
Are they the team that dropped 10 of 15, which essentially killed their chances of defending their AL East title? Or are they the club that won 10 straight? How about the squad that has lost three of the last four and got whipped so bad Luke Voit borrowed a movie title to describe his teammates.
“Lot of mental mistakes. We had a chance, bases loaded early in the game and none of us came through. We made four errors. That was not Yankee baseball at all,’’ said Voit, who committed a fielding error in a two-run fourth inning. Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez made errors and Sanchez was dinged for catcher’s interference, which is an error. “Everything was bad tonight. It was almost like we are the Bad News Bears. We have to flush it. We have four important games left.’’
With the Twins vaulting past the White Sox into the AL Central lead by a half game, the Yankees currently would face the White Sox in the first round of the playoffs that will be a best-of-three and start Tuesday. Entering Thursday’s action, the Yankees are two games back of the White Sox for the better record and home-field advantage throughout the first round. Because the Twins are only a half-length ahead of the White Sox for first place, the identity of the Yankees’ playoff opponent is fluid.
In Masahiro Tanaka’s final regular-season start, the Yankees hurt his chances at a victory with their leaky gloves, inaccurate arms and by loading the bases with no outs in the fifth trailing by four runs and not scoring.
So good against the Blue Jays in his seven years with the Yankees — 14-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 22 starts before Wednesday night — Tanaka gave up five runs (three earned), eight hits and three walks. He is 3-3 going into his next outing, which will be Game 2 of the first round next Wednesday.
“We need to be better, myself included, I botched a ball tonight. Not what you want going into the playoffs but I am not worried about this team at all,’’ Voit said. “One of those games you have to throw out the window and keep plugging.’’
Had they tossed anything out of a window Wednesday evening, it would have been overthrown or dropped.