There were no cheers or tears, but a half hour or so before the Yankees completed a three-game series sweep over the Red Sox with a 5-1 win, they were officially eliminated from the postseason when Baltimore beat Toronto Thursday night.
You know the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi were watching the scoreboard. The YES television Network got a glimpse of Girardi in the Yankees dugout and the caption read Baltimore over Toronto. Girardi knew the ramifications as his team once again played like they had nine lives with those slim postseason hopes.
But it is now over. The Yankees the next three games in the Bronx can be spoilers against the Orioles who now have the task in those three games to stay alive with Toronto, Detroit and Seattle.
“Not what we wanted,” said Girardi. “It came to an end tonight. It was difficult. There were some good things that happened.”
Those good things were how the Yankees got themselves back in the thick of the things. They were 6.5 games behind in the division on August 1st, eight-games away from one of the AL wild card spots for the postseason and playing .500 ball.
They fought, but it was too much and too late. Perhaps an overhaul of the roster, ridding Alex Rodriguez sooner and bringing the sensational rookie, Gary Sanchez up earlier would have been the difference to keep the drama ongoing to the final day after a 9-17 start to the season.
But the end was just about conclusive when Boston held their end of the bargain and swept four games up at Fenway Park last week. It was a matter of time, but these “Baby Bombers” as they are now labeled, made this an impressive 12-round championship fight.
“You work a long time to try and get to this point in the playoffs and when you don’t get there it’s difficult,” Girardi said. “We didn’t score enough runs and gave up too many..” It was a quiet clubhouse as the Yankees knew it was time to plan for next year.
“I think guys realize it came to an end tonight,” Girardi said about the mood.”It is difficult. There were good things that happened but in the end we fell short. We didn’t have a successful season.”
And no season is successful unless the Yankees reach the postseason or win a World Series. Instead for the Yankees they will pack their bags and go home without going deep into October for the third time in four years.
“Everybody gave up on us,” said the shortstop Didi Gregorius. “I think we scared everybody, actually, to be honest, because nobody expected us to be all the way here.”
And on a night when the Yankees honored the retiring David Ortiz in a pre game ceremony, “Big Papi” said the Yankees will always be tough to beat in the years ahead and have youngsters that will once again make the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry meaningful.
One of those impressive points was CC Sabathia. The lefthander tossed 7.1 innings Thursday night, gave up four hits and a run. His last start of the season was a victory and he completed 2016, 9-12 with a 3.91 ERA. Sabathia also made his 30th start, the most since 2013 and this has to be considered a comeback year as the fastball had velocity and command.
When asked why the Yankees came up short, Girardi said it was the inability to come from behind and failure to stay close with a bullpen that had struggles. In the end, a resurgence was attributed to Sanchez and his record 20 home runs in 51 games.
Similar to the 1994-95 teams, when the Yankees started to build with a “Core Four” of Derek Jeter and company, this team so much resembled a new core with Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin and more to come.
So the next three games will be spoiler time for these Yankees. And it will also enable Girardi to use his core of “Baby Bombers” more. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dellin Betances the closer, who could not find the strike zone the past few weeks will take a seat before they go home.
There will be another overhaul of this roster, there always is with free agency and contracts in this business of baseball. That will be discussed for another time but overall, and despite the failure to play on in October, the season that ended without a postseason was a success for these New York Yankees.
Why a success? The experiment is over and the youngsters are in the Bronx. The new core was unveiled and the Yankees are aware about the prosperity that awaits and sooner than expected.