NEW YORK – There has not seemed to be much doubt that this day was coming, but with four games left in the regular season, the New York Yankees were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Wednesday night.
The Yankees’ 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, their 76th loss of the season, was rendered meaningless before the end of the eighth inning, when the Cleveland Indians finished off a victory against the Chicago White Sox.
With Wednesday's elimination, this marks just the second time in the past 19 seasons that the Yankees have missed the postseason. The other time came in 2008, during Joe Girardi’s first season as the team’s manager. Furthermore, the loss means that Thursday’s home finale will be the first time since 1993 that the Yankees will play a meaningless home game in September. Also serving as Mariano Rivera’s final home game, it opens the possibility that Rivera could see that one inning in center field that he has longed for throughout his Hall-of-Fame career.
Wednesday’s game was pegged as a disaster early in the night. Phil Hughes, who was likely making his final start in pinstripes, failed to record an out in the third inning and was pulled after all four batters he faced that inning reached base. Hughes wound up being charged with the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits in two-plus innings. The loss was Hughes’ 14th of the season, the most recorded during the former first-round draft pick’s seven year career.
Hughes was replaced by David Huff, who tossed scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth innings, but fell apart in the sixth. The left-hander allowed four runs – including two home runs – on five hits in 3 2/3 innings pitched.
Leadoff hitter Eduardo Nunez and All-Star Robinson Cano were the offensive leaders on Wednesday. Each player recorded two hits and an RBI. For Nunez, the RBI came in the third inning, when he blasted a solo home run off Rays starting pitcher David Price. Nunez also scored a run on Cano’s RBI double in the first inning.
The Yankees recorded one more run in the eighth-inning, when pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay worked a bases-loaded walk. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Curtis Granderson grounded out to second base, ending their final threat of the day.