Yanks can't afford any more losses
(Photo by Gary Quintal)
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 6- The loss was tough to take Friday night against the central division leading Kansas City Royals but the New York Yankees can’t afford to lose many more ballgames. If they don’t want to miss the post season for a second straight year they are aware what the obstacles are. James Shields was dominant on the mound and limited the Yankees to three hits over eight innings.
He was the latest obstacle for the Yankees in the Bronx as the Royals took the first of a three-game series 1-0.
Yes the Yankees were dominated by Shields who improved to 13-7 and could be considered among voters in the Cy Young award category. Contrasted to the last time they faced him in a makeup game out in Kansas City, 11 days ago , the Yankees could not get anything going and of course it happened at the wrong time in September
The Yankees were shutout for the seventh time this season, also not the proper time for that to happen, especially now, when every pitch and every at bat comes into play with 23 games remaining.
“It’s frustrating because you lose by one run,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “We never got anything going against him (Shields).” Any loss for the Yankees at this point is detrimental to their playoff hopes as the second wild card, and there are two more with the Royals Saturday and Sunday.
It won’t get easier. Girardi knows how difficult this task has become.
“They’re all dramatic at this point because it makes it that much tougher,” he said. “It’s much easier when you have the lead.” Except, Shields was sharp from the beginning and retired the first 11-Yankees, allowing only two base runners to reach second base. The changeup and fastball paved the way for six strikeouts, three by Mark Teixeira, and he induced seven ground ball outs.
To say the least, there was a contrast in the clubhouses of both teams. The Royals recorded their 11th shutout of the season and improved to a season high 17-games over the .500 mark ,and siince July 22 have posted a major league best 30-11 record.
The Yankees, though, 25-20 since the all-star break have not had a consistent and prolonged winning streak that could inch them closer to three teams ahead of them for that final willd card. And this was another loss that put them 4.5 games behind tied with the surging Cleveland Indians.
Scoreboard watching? “You can’t predict what teams are ahead of you are doing,” said Girardi. “But we’re going to have to win most of them,” he commented when asked about the huge task that the Yankees have in order to become that final wild card team.
The lone run off Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who has become a highlight of this dismal season, was unearned. He looked as good as Shields limiting the Royals to three hits. Alcides Escobar hit a sharp grounder to third that Chase Headley could not handle. The ball came off the heel of his glove and went for a two-base error. Nori Aoki sent a ball up the middle and that was it,
Shields and the Royals, barring a late collapse in the final weeks, are going to be one of those teams going to the post season. The Yankees in all probability will soon play out the season and hope for better next year.
So that Yankees post game clubhouse had the look of a loser. There were no players in sight. And can you blame them for not talking and answering the same questions, as they obviously realize every loss leads to their post season chances having to wait for another year.
Wade Davis smoked one by Carlos Beltran and got his first save of the season to end the game and extended his major league leading scoreless streak to 28.21 innings.
Headley, the hero with a walk-off ninth inning home run the night before against the Red Sox was making no excuses. The play should have been made but the way Shields was pitching there was no room for error.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating,” said Headley, “I don’t want it to sound like I’m not disappointed, but on the same token, if it’s something I did mechanically wrong, that tends to bug me more than the ones that are tough plays that evade your glove.”
He added, “It sucks that that happened. I wish it hadn't but there’s not a whole lot you can do about it after it does."
And there is not much more time for the Yankees. They say 90-wins would do it to get to October, and that seems impossible at this juncture. But with this Yankees season of failure, getting to the post season was never going to be easy.
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