What had been expected for almost a month became a reality Wednesday night while the Yankees embarrassed themselves in Buffalo.
That’s when the Rays clinched the AL East title the Yankees were favored to win for a second straight season prior to the first and second spring trainings.
Thanks to slipshod fielding, ineffective relief pitching and a failure to hit in the clutch, the Yankees dropped an ugly 14-1 decision to the Blue Jays at Sahlen Field. The Rays beat the Mets, which leaves the second-place Yankees battling the White Sox and Twins for the AL’s fourth seed, a finish which would guarantee that all games in the best-of-three first round of the playoffs would be played in the Bronx.
The White Sox lost to the Indians, and depending on the outcome of the Twins-Tigers game, would be a half-game up or a half-game back in the AL Central.
Sahlen Field is a minor league ballpark and the Yankees played like they belonged in Triple-A. They have lost four of six at the ballpark this year with one game remaining Thursday night.
For the second time in four games Yankees catcher Erik Kratz pitched. He gave up Danny Jansen’s second homer of the night in the eighth inning. The Jays’ ninth-place hitter went 4-for-4 and drove in three runs.
So good against the Blue Jays in his career — 14-5 with a 2.92 ERA in 22 starts — Masahiro Tanaka was the victim of inept fielding and had a three-game winning streak halted.
In four innings, he gave up five runs (three earned), eight hits, walked three and fanned five. He required 91 pitches to get a dozen outs and fell to 3-3. Tanaka’s next start will be Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series on Wednesday.
Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres each made errors. For the second time in three games, Sanchez was charged with catcher’s interference.
Trailing, 5-1, in the top of the fifth inning, the Yankees loaded the bases against Robbie Ray without an out and didn’t score.
Clint Frazier led off with a walk and DJ LeMahieu followed with a single to right. A.J. Cole replaced Ray and walked Aaron Judge to load the bases. Cole struck out Giancarlo Stanton, popped up Voit and stranded three runners by getting Torres on a routine fly ball to right.
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