You know what they say, the playoff spots are won early in the season. For the New York Yankees, they lost their shot at the AL East early as well.I know what you’re all going to say. “At least the New York Yankees have a playoff spot.”
I KNOW. We should all be grateful for the incredible run this young team has had this season. They’ve made it so far after being expected to do next to nothing this season.
But perhaps what hurts even more is knowing that the AL East was within their reach. Sure, they made it to the last game of the season before their chance at another division title dissipated but it still means they had a chance to come out on top and avoid this silly Wild Card fiasco.
You never know what is going to happen at the beginning of the season. Just like you never know what losses might loom large in their hunt for the AL East.
Don’t worry, I did the research for you. Here are the five losses that might have been the difference between the AL East and the Wild Card.
5. Sept. 5 at Baltimore Orioles
The score ended in favor of the Baltimore Orioles due to a walk-off hit from the one and only Manny Machado. But it never should have happened.
The Yankees put up a six-spot in the top of the fourth inning and felt comfortable with a 6-2 lead. Heck, with that bullpen they boast, I would feel more than comfortable carrying over a four-run lead.
But it all went to hell. The Yankees blew the lead and game with a two-out, two-run blast from Machado against Dellin Betances.
The loss itself was painful. What was perhaps more painful? In the thick of a playoff race, the Red Sox gained ground with a win and the Yankees felt defeated in the worst way.
4. May 19 at Tampa Bay Rays
Another day, another AL East opponent. This game was heartbreaking because they had the Rays right where they wanted them. And then they blew it.
This game has late-game heroics from the Yankees but, once again, their bullpen (namely Tyler Clippard) couldn’t keep the game in check.
The Yankees lost late, allowing an Evan Longoria RBI single in the eighth that gave them the lead and, eventually, the victory.
The frustration was building, especially because the Red Sox lost that night, allowing them to inch ever closer to first place. The Yankees lost a very winnable game and it might have played a big role in where they are now.
3. June 16 at Oakland A’s
The game before this was the extra-inning loss that will haunt their the Yankees for years to come. However, the loss they took on June 16 perhaps hurt their chances of winning the East even more.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Yankees had the lead. Up 6-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees were looking to get their bullpen in to finish up the game. And, once again, they failed.
The Yankees ended up allowing one in the seventh and two in the eighth to allow the A’s to take the lead and did nothing in their final at-bats to blow the chance to gain ground on the Red Sox.
They had the game in their hands and let it slip through fingers. If this game was won, the Yankees would be still fighting for that AL East title.
2. July 14 at Boston Red Sox
I don’t even want to bring this up but I have to. This game was a heart-breaker, especially since the Red Sox increased their lead in the East AND kept their confidence going.
A back-and-forth matchup, the Yankees entered the ninth with a 4-3 lead and their flame-throwing closer on the mound. Yet everything fell apart.
Aroldis Chapman then allowed the first two batters to reach, one to score on a fielding error and allowed the winning run on a…walk.
A walk. A walk-off walk. If the Yankees aren’t humiliated then I am. This was heart-wrenching and demoralizing, sending the Yankees further into a downward spiral as the first game of the second half.
1. Sept. 8 at Texas Rangers
Playing in Texas is always rough. But the Yankees were hot! They could handle it! Right?
Wrong. They couldn’t hold a lead and let the Rangers continuously chip away until they completely deflated the Yankees.
The Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead, then a 5-1 lead. And they simply couldn’t stop the Rangers. And when all was said and done, the Rangers were ahead 11-5 and had collected 15 hits.
The Red Sox won this day, increasing their lead over the Yankees and making them sweat. Had the Yankees won this game, they would have swept the Rangers and gone on to beat the Rays in the next series.
It’s all about getting those wins when the count and the Yankees couldn’t get that done. Had they emerged the victor from any of these games, things might have been different.
When all is done, the Yankees are in the Wild Card spot. That’s how the chips fell and that’s how they will remain. But if you could go back in time and change these games so the Yankees win the East, would you?