NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Yankees failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, getting mathematically eliminated Wednesday night during an 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Evan Longoria homered twice as the Rays won their sixth straight and lowered to three their magic number over Texas for clinching an AL wild-card berth.
Slowed by age and hobbled by injury, the Yankees (82-76) were chased with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Cleveland Indians completed a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. Despite baseball’s highest opening-day payroll at $230 million, the Yankees failed to claim one of the 10 playoff berths.
“We didn’t get to where we wanted to get,” manager Joe Girardi said after it was over.
Since starting the latest run of success in 1995, New York had missed the playoffs only in 2008 — when the team bid goodbye to old Yankee Stadium. This time, the Yankees are saying goodbye to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who are retiring when the season ends Sunday.
“I’m not used to pitching for something that doesn’t mean anything,” Rivera said. “I wanted to pitch for something that means something.”
“It’s a really sad feeling,” said second baseman Robinson Cano, who is headed for free agency. “The fun part of this game is playoffs. I’m really sad right now, and it’s going to stick in my head, in my mind, until next season.”
Before a quiet crowd of 37,260, the Yankees lost for the eighth time in 11 games and were eliminated from contention for a playoff berth on their own field for the first time since 1991.
“It’s extremely disappointing, and back to the drawing board,” Girardi said. “It hurts.”
Fans figure to be more exuberant during Thursday night’s home finale, when Rivera likely will make his final Yankee Stadium appearance.
David Price (9-8) ended a five-start winless streak, one shy of his career worst, and Longoria drove in four runs.
Price allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Longoria hit a three-run homer in the sixth off David Huff, and David DeJesus hit his second of the season on the next pitch. Longoria homered in the ninth off Preston Claiborne, his 31st of the season and ninth in 18 games this year against the Yankees.
Phil Hughes (4-14) allowed three runs and seven hits in two innings-plus, walking slowly to the dugout and looking up to the stands when he was removed from what likely was his final start with the Yankees.
A key part of the Yankees’ 2009 title team as a reliever, Hughes went 0-7 with a 6.09 ERA in 13 starts since beating Minnesota on July 2. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
“Just a tough way to end things here — not making the postseason,” Hughes said.
Joba Chamberlain, also eligible for free agency, didn’t even wait for mathematical elimination to prepare for his departure. Before batting practice, he started putting his locker belongings into a large box.
New York started the season 30-18 and was in first place on the morning of May 26, but the solid start was not enough to overcome injuries to four All-Star regulars: shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Mark Teixeira and center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Hobbled by the ankle he broke in last year’s AL championship series opener, Jeter didn’t make his season debut until right before the All-Star break and wound up playing just 17 games because of recurring leg injuries.
Teixeira, who injured a hand while with the U.S. team at World Baseball Classic, played in just 15 games and needed season-ending surgery. Rodriguez, coming back from hip surgery, and Granderson, who broke a forearm and pinkie when hit by pitches, each played about one-third of the season.
In all, the Yankees had a major league-leading 28 stints on the disabled list by 21 different players, according to STATS, and have missed 1,461 days — more than four years’ worth.
New York’s home runs dropped from a team-record 245 last year to 143 this season — on pace to be the Yankees’ fewest in a non-strike season since 1989. The departure of free agents Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez contributed to the power outage.
“You could go back to a number of games and say they could be the difference,” Girardi said
He added: “Today was probably a reality check for me.”
NOTES: Somewhat appropriately on the day New York was eliminated, it was Charlie Brown bobblehead night. … The Yankees put LHP CC Sabathia on the 15-day DL retroactive to Saturday and activated DH Travis Hafner, who had been sidelined since late July with a rotator cuff strain. … In a home plate presentation by Jeter and Rivera, Pettitte was given a framed base from his final Yankee Stadium start Sunday, signed by the team.
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