Yankees Postgame Notebook: Postseason No Mo
With the Yankees' 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, the team was officially eliminated from postseason contention…but by the time the final out was recorded, it was almost moot anyway; no matter their result, the Yankees would also have been eliminated if Cleveland beat the White Sox, and that game went final with a 7-3 Indians victory just moments before Curtis Granderson grounded out to second base to end a potential rally in the eighth inning.
And so it goes for the New York Yankees, who will miss the postseason for just the second time in the Wild Card era and play their final four games of 2013 for nothing but pride.
"You can look back to just 10 days ago or whenever it was, when we won three of four in Baltimore…we were right there," manager Joe Girardi said after the game. "Today was probably a reality check for me, and I knew it would probably be extremely difficult, but I believed that we would get there."
Girardi admitted that he was watching the scoreboard today, as he has been for the last few days - noting "it's right there in front of us" - but he knew job number one was still taking care of number one, and he was disappointed that it came to an end this way.
"We knew we needed some help and we needed to win games, and we haven't been able to accomplish either of those," the skipper said. "It's extremely disappointing, and it hurts. No matter how it happens, if you don't make it, it hurts."
In Wednesday's game, Phil Hughes was a Phil-in for CC Sabathia, and although his stat line may not necessarily show it anywhere but the innings pitched column, the righty was generally ineffective once again; he departed in the third inning down only 2-1, but he left the bases loaded for David Huff to clean up.
"I thought he had some unlucky bounces today, but at that time I felt it was time to go to Huff because they had left-right-left," Girardi said. "They got the one run in that inning, and I felt it was time."
"Any time you're in that spot it's tough, and in a game we actually had to win, it's tough to leave that way," Hughes added.
Eduardo Nunez pulled it to within 3-2 with a third-inning solo homer, but the Rays touched Huff up for four runs in his 3.2 innings, the big blow coming off the bat of Evan Longoria, and by then, it seemed to be all over but the shouting.
"It hurts," Mariano Rivera simply said, acknowledging the reality that his days of October baseball are over. "We did our best all year long, we just couldn't get it done."
The Yankees tried to mount a rally down 7-2 in the eighth, one started when Ichiro hit a pinch-hit single in place of Ichiro - but in the end, they only mounted one run, leaving the bases loaded and seeing their rally (and their postseason hopes, based on what happened in Cleveland) end when Curtis Granderson grounded out.
As for Rodriguez, Girardi said Ichiro's pinch-hit appearance was facilitated by a request from A-Rod, who told the skipper that his aching leg was acting up once again.
"He said his legs weren't great, so we pinch-hit for him," the skipper said. "He just told me his legs weren't great and he was going to go take care of them, so I said 'okay, go take care of them.'"
A few outs later, the Rays had taken care of the Yankees, and the little engine that could finally ran out of steam.
"I always look at it as we didn't play well. As I said yesterday, I always believe you can find a way to do more; that starts with me, and I'll never think any different," Girardi said. "I don't care who is in that room; when you put the uniform on, you're a big league player, and you have a chance to make the postseason, and when you don't make it, it's disappointing."
Looking ahead, Girardi said pre-game that there was a "pretty good chance" that Rivera will pitch in tomorrow's finale, but he's not prepared to say the next four days will be any different line-up wise.
"We'll go day by day," he said. "We have a responsibility to baseball tomorrow and in Houston."
And as far as the off-season goes?
"It's way too early for that; I'm sure we'll meet after the season, with Cash (Brian Cashman) and the front office, and we'll come up with a plan."
Until then, all the Yankees can do is play out the string - and we'll give the last word to Girardi on what he hopes the season's final 96 hours or so entail:
"I'll have a moment with them at some point this weekend…but I'm proud of the way they fought and kept coming back. I'm disappointed for the guys in that room, because we didn't get to where we wanted to get, but it should fuel you for next year - and to me, the way you play these next four games says a lot about who you are as a person and what you think about this game."