BALTIMORE — The New York Yankees probably aren’t going to make the postseason, which is why, for them, the playoffs start Sunday. They won’t be mathematically eliminated with another loss to the Baltimore Orioles, but nearly all hope will vanish.
They are already 4 1/2 games behind the Orioles for the second wild-card spot with 28 games to go. They can’t cede any more ground if they want that final series of the regular season in the Bronx against Baltimore to mean anything.
The Yankees have been shut out for 18 innings against the Orioles so far this weekend. On Saturday, Kevin Gausman, who is mediocre against everyone but the Yankees, threw six innings of scoreless baseball in a 2-0 win.
Against the Yankees, Gausman is 2-1 with a 0.80 ERA in five starts. Against everyone else, he is 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 20 starts.
“[Sunday] is probably the most important game of the year,” Girardi said.
However Sunday goes, it is probably too late, as the current math is unkind to the Yankees’ chances.
The Yankees (69-65) would need to go 18-10 to reach last year’s 87 wins.
That means they would need to play eight games over .500 in a month’s worth of play. In the first five months of the season, the most over .500 they have been is six games. So 18-10 seems like a stretch, but let’s give it to them.
If they did that, they would still need the Orioles (74-61) to play 14-14 ball — just to tie them for the second wild card. While this seems quite unlikely, it becomes increasingly unfathomable when you add it in the mixer that is the American League wild-card race, which includes the Red Sox, Orioles, Tigers, Astros and Royals.
The Yankees have some issues that will likely prevent an incredible run — it starts at the top. With two speed guys on at one-two in their order, you would think they could manufacture some runs, but they don’t. Neither Brett Gardner nor Jacoby Ellsbury runs often, which neutralizes what in theory is one of their greatest assets.
Ellsbury, at $153 million for seven years, continues to project as one of the worst signings in franchise history. He is batting .265 with a .696 OPS. He remains invisible in nearly every way.
Aaron Judge looks lost. After two more strikeouts in three hitless at-bats, he is 2-for-his-past-32 with 21 strikeouts. On top of that, his fourth-inning error on a single to right allowed the unearned run to score in the fourth.
Judge may be the Yankees’ future right fielder, but if Girardi is trying to win on Sunday, then Judge should be on the bench. Rob Refsnyder would be a better choice at the plate. Girardi said he hadn’t thought exactly about his Sunday lineup.
“We have to get him going,” Girardi said of Judge. “That’s the bottom line. We have to get this kid going.”
The Yankees wasted a tough performance by CC Sabathia. Sabathia said he had nothing. He was in trouble all night, but escaped. His six innings were wasted. In an important game, Sabathia showed his champion pedigree.
But this year is still likely just about tomorrow. The Yankees may even win on Sunday, but it is hard to figure out how they have enough to really make fantasy reality and claim a wild card in 2016.