The series sweep in Boston could have easily been different for the New York Yankees, who had a chance to make their playoff dreams a reality.
Heading into this series, all the New York Yankees needed to do was a make it winning one to further narrow the four-game deficit in the American League East.
Unfortunately for their improbable run, the first place Boston Red Sox refused to let their divisional lead diminish any further.
After the Bombers took a comfortable 5-1 lead in game one on Thursday night, Boston crawled back by scoring six runs in the final two innings.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, the Yankees were cruising to what seemed like to be an easy 5-2 win, until the Red Sox responded to Gary Sanchez’s bomb with four unanswered runs.
That contest, like two days prior, ended in disheartening fashion as Adam Warren allowed the go-ahead run to score in the seventh on a wild pitch.
Finally, there was Sunday night. Also known as, the night the Yankees were finished off in primetime.
However, Sabathia’s made an errant throw to first out of the reach of the first baseman, Billy Butler, which brought up the hottest hitter of the series.
Hanley Ramirez crushed a three-run homer the very next at-bat that departed with an exit velocity of 109-MPH to pull the Sox within one.
Ramirez then hit a go-ahead solo bomb in the seventh to throw the Yankees’ incredible seven-game win streak — that seduced the baseball world into thinking they were legit — into the shadows as they are now losers in seven of their last eight.
What’s even more daunting, however, is that they had a legitimate opportunity to enter Tuesday’s series with the last-place Tampa Bay Rays just one game out of first place.
“I felt like we probably should have won three of those four, but they made the plays when they needed to,” retiring first baseman Mark Teixeira told MLB.com. “They stepped up when they needed to, and it just didn’t go our way.”
No, they have not been mathematically eliminated (their elimination number is down to 10) but any realistic likelihood dissolved into the night after a 4-0 Yankees’ lead turned into a 5-4 loss and a four-game series sweep by the Red Sox.
Thankfully the Yankees’ manager knows another hot streak won’t be enough. Heck, maybe winning 12 of their remaining 13 games may not be enough thanks to the crunched up Wild Card race.
“Well, you can just do the math, and I think we’re all aware that we’re going to have to win a lot more games than we lose,” Joe Girardi told ESPN. “If you go .500, you pretty much know that’s not going to be enough. We know that we have to win a lot of games.”
At this point, a playoff appearance would take a supernatural ending to 2016, and the 2016 New York Yankees have been the opposite of that as of late.
Even with the unprecedented burst since the deadline, the majority would acknowledge that this season has been mostly a downhill fall rather than an uphill climb.
Sure, the teams in front of them in the Wild Card race have not disappeared from New York nor have they separated themselves considerably, but this boxing movie is quite over for the Bombers.
They were knocked down in April, en route to a 9-17 start to the season. Then, all hope was lost when general manager Brian Cashman initiated the fire sale at the trade deadline.
However, the Yankees got up. Fought back to pull within one game of a playoff spot thanks in large part to the Baby Bombers.
Just when it was apparent that the comeback had become authentic, the Red Sox delivered the knockout blow in Beantown. This time, it’s hard to envision them raising their crushed spirits off the ground yet again.
That doesn’t take away from what the Yankees did in late-August/early-September, though.
This team (somehow) provided the baseball world with one of the most enjoyable runs in recent memory. Sure, the sun is setting on a season that won’t end in the hoisting of title number 28, but it is the dawn of a new era.
For once, that is perfectly fine with the New York Yankees’ organization.
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.