The GM’s first speech to players since 2009 occurred when the Yankees were in Buffalo earlier in September to play the Toronto Blue Jays, and it sparked a turnaround that might have saved the season. The Yanks lost that night, then won the series finale the following day to start a 10-game winning streak that turned playoff doubt to another clinching.
But the Yankees aren’t home free yet. They’re still playing for home field in next week’s best-of-three Wild Card Series, and they’ve gone from tied to 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins thanks to two days of atrocious baseball that has been reminiscent of the 5-15 slide that Cashman is getting some credit for helping them end.
The Blue Jays issued a payback to the Yankees in Monday night’s series opener with a resounding 11-5 win that was a reversal from last week’s visit to Yankee Stadium when Toronto was out-slugged 43-15 in being swept three games.
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The day before, the Yanks’ 10-game winning streak ended with a 10-2 loss in Boston.
In addition to these two losses hurting the Yanks chances to play at home in the Wild Card Series – and all of the games will be hosted by the higher seed – their hopes of catching the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays are about shot, too.
The Rays’ 2-1 road win over the Mets on Monday night coupled with the Yanks’ setback has Tampa Bay up 4.5 games with the regular season down to six days. The Rays, who also hold the tiebreaker, have a magic number of one to clinch their third AL East title in franchise history and first since 2010.
The Yanks opted to make the first of four with the Jays this week be a bullpen game to set up their rotation for the playoffs. Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka being pushed back a day led to rookie Michael King (1-2) getting the start on Monday.
King struck out four while starting with two scoreless innings, but the righty didn’t get out of third while allowing five runs to turn a 1-0 Yankees lead into a 5-1 hole that got bigger the night inning when Jonathan Loaisiga gave up four runs, three of them earned.
— The Yanks made the final score somewhat respectable with two outs in the ninth when Mike Tauchman hit a three-run double.
— Second baseman DJ LeMahieu padded his lead in the AL batting race over White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. LeMahieu is at .265 after going 2-for-4, while Anderson dropped to .355 by going 1-for-5 in a 7-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
— Third baseman Gio Urshela drove in both Yankees runs with a second-inning single and seventh-inning groundout.
— The Yankees committed two errors, giving them 19 in their last 16 games. LeMahieu had a throwing error, while Gary Sanchez was charged with catcher’s interference.
— Playing his sixth MLB game, Blue Jays rookie Alejandro Kirk was 4-for-4 with a double and homer hitting out of the No. 8 hole. Kirk, 21, became the catcher age 21 or younger to have a four-hit game since Hall of Famer Pudge Rodriguez in 1991.
— The Blue Jays reduced their magic number to clinching an AL Wild Card spot to three.
Tuesday: Yankees vs. Blue Jays in Buffalo, 6:37 p.m., YES & ESPN (out of market). RHP Gerrit Cole vs. TBA.
Wednesday: Yankees vs. Blue Jays in Buffalo, 6:37 p.m., YES. RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. TBA
Thursday: Yankees vs. Blue Jays in Buffalo, 6:37 p.m., YES & MLB Network (out of market). RHP TBA vs. TBA.
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