The Yankees, who remained at 9,999 wins in franchise history after last night’s game against the Red Sox, lost a 5-1 game to the Boston Red Sox in the first game of their series at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are 3.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the first wild-card spot with six games left to play, and their playoff probability is currently 99.9 percent.
The Yankees trail the Toronto Blue Jays by five games, and the reason the Yankees will not win the division is that since the start of play on July 29th, the Blue Jays are 41-14 and have a run differential of an outstanding +129.
Offense is key for any team to win games and the Yankees offense struggled for the fifth time in their last six games. They have now scored three runs or less in five of their last six games and have scored two runs or less in four of those games. They are 3-3 in those six games.
“You’re going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Right now we feel like we are battling. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to put good innings together,” Carlos Beltran said. “Today was a day where we faced a guy who was pitching well.”
The Yankees were 0-7 with runners in scoring position, which makes it hard to win a game. Their only run came off of an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly that scored Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. Greg Bird struck out with runners on first and second to end the first inning, Brett Gardner flied out to right with Rob Refsnyder on second to end the fourth inning and Gardner struck out on a 94 mph fastball with Refsnyder on second and John Ryan Murphy on third to end the game.
The one positive offensively was that Refsnyder was 1-4 and now has one or more hits in every game that he has started this month (four). He has recently been playing second against lefties and Dustin Ackley has been the second baseman against righties. Refsnyder has five hits in his last 13 at-bats (.385) with one double, which is a sign that he is showing his skills on offense.
“I think we need to do a better job against left handers,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s something we need to do a better job at. We struggled offensively this weekend against lefties. It’s is a kid that has swung well against left handers in the past (Refsnyder).”
Ivan Nova allowed four runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings pitched, but looked about as good as he has this season in the first five innings of the game. He did not allow a run before the sixth inning and only allowed three hits in that span. However, Nova was yet another Yankee pitcher whose effectiveness got worse in the sixth inning.
Nova had a good breaking ball but the homers off of him came on fastballs that didn’t sink. Travis Shaw blasted a homer to right that drove in Xander Bogaerts in the sixth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a homer just above the Canon sign in left field that bounced back into the field in the seventh inning.
After taking Nova out of the game after the seventh inning, Girardi used five relief pitchers to get the final six outs of the game. After recording the first two outs of the ninth, Caleb Cathem gave up a solo homer to Deven Marrero, which was Marrero’s first career round tripper. Fellow rookie Nick Rumbelow got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to Didi Gregorius at shortstop to end the top of the ninth.
Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series on Tuesday night and will try to make sure the Yankees don’t lose any ground to the Astros. Pineda only allowed one run in six innings and struck out six in his previous start and in his last two starts combined he has pitched 11.1 innings, allowed only one run, recorded 10 strikeouts and only one walk.
Masahiro Tanaka is on track to pitch the wild card game, but either Tanaka or Luis Severino should pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series if the Yankees win the one-game playoff.