NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
With their playoff hopes on life support, the New York Yankees will wrap up the season’s final homestand with a three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays.
New York is four games out of a wild-card spot with only six left to play. Veteran pitcher Hiroki Kuroda (11-12, 3.17 ERA) will get the start Tuesday for the Yankees, who have a better chance at playing spoiler than actually getting to the postseason.
“This team has fought all year long,” manager Joe Girardi said. “And we’re going to have to continue to do it.”
Tampa Bay currently owns one of the American League’s two wild-card spots. Cleveland has the other, with Texas just a game behind. Kansas City is three games out.
The Yankees didn’t do anything to help their thin chances on Sunday, an afternoon that started with a tribute to closer Mariano Rivera but ended with a disappointing 2-1 loss to San Francisco.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re sitting here and that we lost another game,” retiring starter Andy Pettitte said after his final regular-season start at Yankee Stadium. “This was a big loss.”
Another blow came Monday with the news of CC Sabathia’s Grade 2 left hamstring strain. He’ll need an estimated eight weeks for recovery, ending the left-hander’s season.
“We have hopes and beliefs that next year will be a better year for him and for us,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, according to ESPN. “There’s no point in having him make his last start with an injury.”
Meanwhile, the Rays are so close, they can taste it. Matt Moore (15-4, 3.34 ERA) will take the hill Tuesday as Tampa Bay looks to lock down its wild-card spot while helping to officially knock out the fading Yankees.
The Rays’ magic number is five to make the playoffs. The Yankees, who will finish the season against the lowly Astros in Houston, have a “tragic number” of three for elimination.
“Beating them is going to worsen their chances of getting in, so we can kill a couple birds with that one stone,” Moore said.
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