With a 9-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon, the Bronx Bombers wrapped up the 2015 season with a record of 87-75, 2nd in the A.L. East and six games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
They head back to post-season play for the first time since 2012, as they will face off against the Houston Astros, the 2nd Wild Card winner, in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday evening. However, they don’t look so good as they head to into that game.
More so than any of the other nine teams who punched their ticket to the 2015 post-season, the Yankees have backed their way into the playoffs. Needing to win just one game over the weekend to secure home-field advantage for Tuesday’s wild card game, the Yankees were instead swept by the Baltimore Orioles in disheartening fashion.
It ended a 1-7 week for the team during which their pitching stumbled and their hitting was again ineffective. The Yankees went an appalling 4-for-41 with RISP over the weekend, which included a 1-for-12 showing on Sunday.
They mustered 10 hits during the game but none by the top three in the line-up. Aside from Carlos Beltran, Greg Bird and Dustin Ackley, names that no one would have expected as saviors in April / May, the line-up was largely silent.
This line-up, bullpen and rotation, led by Masahiro Tanaka, who went just 5.0 IP in his tune-up start against the Boston Red Sox and did not look sharp, will now have to face Dallas Keuchel in a win or go home game.
Keuchel, a young lefty with a 2015 season ERA of 2.48, faced the Yankees in June and August and threw a total of 16.0 shutout innings.
The Yankees hit better in Yankee Stadium (.255 BA, .431 SLG and .759 OPS) than they do on the road (.247 BA, .411 SLGL and .729 OPS) but those numbers are distorted by first half stats when the Yankees were considerably better at home than on the road.
The Astros may have had a terrible September that cost them the A.L. West division title, but make no mistake, they are a dangerous team capable of putting up a lot of runs, even against the likes of Tanaka.
This past week was not the one a playoff team wants to have entering the intense playoff cauldron. The good news is that every team starts the post-season with an 0-0 record and anything can happen. Also, to be clear, it is wonderful to see the Yankees with their post-season hoodies on and it will be terrific to see playoff baseball in Yankee Stadium again.
That being said, if the Yankees don’t want this to be a one game return to the party, they need to wake up, and quickly, from their week long slumber. There are no more tomorrow’s. There is no more “focus on winning the series, not the game. There is no more "well, we’ll get them tomorrow.”
This is it. The season on the line. Let’s Go Yankees!