New York Yankees

In their first appearance in two years in the bright lights of October, the New York Yankees virtually laid down against Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros in the AL Wild Card Tuesday night.

By Jeff Weisinger

To call this New York Yankees team a “postseason” team should be considered blasphemy after Tuesday night’s “performance.”

The Yanks laid down from batting practice through the end in their 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card in the Bronx Tuesday night, marking the fifth time in franchise history that they were shutout in the Postseason.

“We just haven’t been able to solve [Dallas] Keuchel this year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in his post-game presser.

The Yanks were held to just three hits on the night, five baserunners total, as the probable 2015 American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel pitched a solid six innings for Houston, allowing just three hits while striking out seven. The Astros bullpen, which has struggled, continued to shut down the Yanks for the final three innings, striking out three more Yankee batters.

“We struggled against left-handers down the stretch and it continued tonight,” Girardi added.

Girardi sent out Masahiro Tanaka for the Yankees tonight and, to his credit, he didn’t pitch terribly. Tanaka went just five innings, allowing just four hits with a pair of runs with three strikeouts. However, two of those hits were solo homers to Colby Rasmus in the second inning and to Carlos Gomez in the fourth.

Tanaka sat the Astros down 1-2-3 in the first inning, however after Rasmus’ home run in the second Tanaka learned how much things could snowball in October, looking like a scared first-timer on the mound rather than the ace pitcher the Bombers paid around $200 million for last year.

“[Tanaka] just made some mistakes,” Girardi explained about the homers. “He had a fastball that kind of pulled to Rasmus, he left a breaking ball up to Gomez.

“A lot of night you give up two runs in five innings you’ve got a pretty good chance to win.”

Unfortunately, for these Yankees, two runs is too many. They’ve struggled down the stretch, losing six of their last seven entering Tuesday night including getting swept by Baltimore in the final series of the regular season. The Yanks mustered nearly no offense in the final series against the O’s and allowed a pair of nine-run games.

Injuries and age were a big part of that and it showed Tuesday night. Despite a decent night by rookie first baseman Greg Bird, the Yanks had no power threat whatsoever as both Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez combined to go 1-for-8 at the plate with four strikeouts (two for each).

“Greg Bird had one of our hits tonight and had a tremendous season for us, but we struggled against left-handers,’ Girardi said.

“We lost a big bat in [Mark Teixeira]. He was one of the guys we counted on to do a lot of damage against left-handers.”

Rodriguez had a chance to put the Yanks ahead early on in the first, but he looked at a fastball on the outside corner for strike three to end the threat with Chris Young on second. He popped out to center field with a pair of runners on base with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and the Yanks down 2-0.

Rookie Rob Refsnyder grounded out on a soft-grounder to Keuchel to end the second inning with Bird on first.

The lack of hitting and scoring has been the theme of the Yankees the last two weeks, and was the theme of the Yankees in Tuesday night’s Wild Card game — a huge let-down considering that the Yanks were one of the highest-scoring offenses in the majors throughout most of the season.

They barely averaged just under three runs per game through the final two weeks.

With Tanaka not pitching like the ace he’s supposed to be and the lineup not hitting anything (almost literally), this Yankee team really had no business being in the postseason, despite what Girardi thinks or the excuses he’ll have for the next few days.

“It’s not a very healthy group in there right now, but they never stopped playing, they never stopped playing hard and they never stopped giving me everything they had,” he said to the media. “When the season started, no one thought we would be here.

“I’m extremely proud of that group in there.”

At least someone is. The rest of New York City – Yankee fans in particular – are not as impressed.

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