This weekend could not have gone worse for the Yankees. That's not hyperbole. It's the simple truth. After they'd fought so hard to win 3 of 4 against the Baltimore Orioles and jumped both Baltimore and Cleveland in the Wild Card race, the Yankees went into Fenway Park and got swept. The pitching was the culprit in all three games, sinking the Yankee offense into holes that turned out to be just too much.
By the time the Yankees were done playing the Sunday Night ESPN game, they were 1.0 game back of Cleveland, 0.5 games back of Baltimore and just 0.5 games ahead of Kansas City (tied in the all important loss column). This was the exact opposite of what they needed to do to make these last 10 games meaningful.
To add insult to injury, before the game, Boston called themselves honoring Mariano Rivera in what would be his last regular season game in Fenway Park. They had a quartet play Rivera's entry music, "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, and gave him four gifts, the first three being a seat from Fenway Park, the pitching rubber from the visitor's bullpen and the #42 from the scoreboard which will obviously never be used again. All of that was fine. Nothing remarkable but Mo doesn't need remarkable, the ceremony itself was enough.
However, there was also a video and that fourth gift. The video was of Mariano blowing the save in the 2004 ALCS and the fourth gift was a picture of Rivera saluting Fenway Park in 2005 as fans cheered him for blowing that same save. To be perfectly clear: At a ceremony honoring one of the greatest relief pitchers of his age in the last month of his career, the Boston Red Sox chose to display a video showing what is arguably the second worse moment of his professional career and to give him a permanent reminder of that moment.
That's like being the first person in your family to graduate from college and, at the celebratory party, your drunk uncle gets up and tells a story about you running a race in the first grade and falling flat on your face and sliding across the finish line. Everyone grits their teeth, smiles and forces laughter but everyone knows that there is a time and place for that story and that isn't it.
Rivera took it in stride. Of course he did, and he still seemed touched by the ceremony. However, from my perspective, it was not Boston's finest moment. It was tacky. Oh, nobody will make a big deal of it because, "Oh, it's just those wacky, loose Red Sox players having some fun!" but it would have been better off not happening.
Back on the field, there was (since it's the Yankees) another injury. Alex Rodriguez left the game early, being pinch hit for by Vernon Wells in the 5th inning after suffering a tight right calf. Personal feelings about the tainted hitter aside, there's no doubt he's been productive in his abbreviated season. With Soriano playing with a sore thumb, at some point one of these will be the injury that breaks the camel's back.
For now, though, the Yankees head off to Toronto, still alive, fighting for an elusive playoff spot, and trying to sneak into the playoffs where anything can happen.
Twelve games left.