Pound Bombers at Stadium Again; Playoff Run May Be Over
It appears that the obvious that has been staring us in the face is now even more glaring. The New York Yankees are going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, and a team that was in the early stages of transition may have to do more than the old 'retooling' phrase general managers say about their teams when they don't want to admit that a rebuilding is in order.
After dropping the first two at home versus the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees are seven out of the wild card and double-digits separate them from the surprising Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
Not only did the Sox come in and do what the Yankees needed to do to salvage their season, but also they spanked their host and made a statement in doing so. Their newest editions - left fielder Jason Bay and starter Paul Byrd - were instrumental in the 11-3 drubbing on Wednesday night. Bay, who took over for Manny Ramirez in a three-team deal at the trading deadline, drove in four runs with a triple and a double, while the journeyman Byrd went six workman-like innings for the win in only his third start for Boston.
In the opener of the three-game set, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield outdueled Andy Pettitte in a 7-3 win for the road team. Alex Rodriguez felt the wrath of the Yankee faithful with a dismal 0-5 performance and an error. One of those failed at-bats included a seventh-inning, bases-loaded double play versus youngster Justin Masterson, who baited the perennial All-Star third sacker with his money pitch.
"I pretty much said, 'Hey, throw my sinker, let it work, get a ground ball.' That's exactly what happened," the 23 year-old converted reliever told reports after the game. The rich get richer with the Red Sox adding Masterson to the bullpen, who has an ERA under two in 14 appearances.
The Yankees trail not only Boston for the extra playoff berth, but also the Minnesota Twins, who trail the Chicago White Sox by one game in the American League Central. A steep hill to climb, no doubt.
Putting their rotation together with spit, it should not come as a surprise that the Yankees are struggling as much as they are. Sidney Ponson, not exactly viewed as a solid part of any rotation, dropped to 7-5 with a 4.80 ERA after the second game of the series. Picked up off of waivers after the Texas Rangers grew tired of his antics, he hasn't pitched terribly in New York, but a big game was needed and four earned runs in four-plus innings was not going to do it.
Losing ace Chien-Ming Wang for the majority of the season has been the death knell of this team. He was 8-2 at the time of his foot injury, and had 19 wins in each of the last two seasons. With a shaky back end of the rotation heading out of spring training, a full season was needed from Wang. Without him, the rest of the staff could not hold up and make that jump to the number one spot.
The Sunday, September 21 prime time match-up versus Baltimore appears to be the last game ever played at the (almost) original Yankee Stadium. At least the hype and celebrations will have an exact date with the Bombers missing the playoffs.