At the end of the day the New York Yankees lost minimal ground in this September stretch of games in their quest to be one of those Al wild card teams. They are also looking to culminate an improbable run to a AL east division title and that is not out of the question.
After failing to achieve a three-game sweep in the Bronx Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, losing 4-2, which snapped a season high seven-game winning streak, there was no reason to sulk and put their heads down.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Chase Headley said. “You’re not going to win every game you play. Hopefully we go on another run tomorrow. We’re confident we can go out and beat anyone the way we’re playing now.”
“We didn’t give them the game, said Headley who hit his 14th home run in the fifth inning. “They just beat us today.”
Headley, and for that matter an entire Yankees team has that winning attitude. They are 13-5 in their last 18-games, and the next three at Yankee Stadium could be a major test at this juncture with the arrival of the NL west division leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Every loss hurts because you don’t make up ground,” manager Joe Girardi said about the inability of his team to capitalize on a last place team that is playing for pride. “Every loss at this point stings,” he said.
And every loss, as Girardi said stings because there are so few games left.
But, five weeks ago, Girardi and the Yankees were not in this possible postseason picture. Remember, they were sellers at the trading deadline sending their best hitter Carlos Beltran to Texas, and two of their top relievers out of the pen, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were traded to different teams.
In turn, the Yankees got younger as did the current and revamped roster. Sunday afternoon, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge did not have an impact at the plate, and in turn the Yankees could only bang out seven hits. Six hits came off Tampa Bay starter and winner Matt Andriese.
The righthander had his control. The Yankees got three more hits from Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot, a double and RBI gave him multiple hits in each of the last four games. Jacoby Ellsbury went hitless in four at bats, and when he and Gardner have multiple hits in the same game, the Yankees are 11-1.
Headley added: “We’re confident we can go out and beat anyone right now the way we’re playing.” And with 20-games remaining, the Yankees need to win multiple series against Toronto, Boston and Baltimore. Those are the teams in front of them and, not by much.
The Yankees ended their day four-games behind division leading Boston, two games in the loss column, and with the loss two games from the wild card in a tie with Detroit.
And to continue this run, that started last month, pitching also has to play a role. Righthander Luis Cessa, one of those youngsters, now in that position of trying to get the Yankees to October, in his fifth career start allowed four runs on five hits.
But those runs were all hindered by the home run. Two were hit in the sixth inning, solo home runs to left from Brad Miller and one to right off the bat of Logan Forsythe.
“He pitched very well, made some mistakes and it hurt him,” said Girardi. The mistakes were throwing high and one that was down the middle. This time of year, and with every game seen as crucial, the home run ball becomes the worst enemy for a young pitcher.
“Obviously you can’t miss your spots,” the 24-year old Cessa said through a translator, “ “Because when you do they will hit them out.” Every stat is important to me. Every start I go out there, I have to do the best I can. Right now I just have to focus on the next one.”
And the next start will be more crucial for Cessa ,who will probably go again on the upcoming 11-game Yankees road trip that includes teams that are ahead of them. That spot to play ball in October could be determined for the Yankees after the Dodgers leave town as they play four at Boston, sandwiched with three at Tampa Bay, and four up in Toronto,
Yes, every game is important for the Yankees in this improbable but possible run. They can’t win all of their remaining 20-games, but a bulk of them have to go their way.