It’s going to take something beyond reason to happen for the New York Yankees to make the playoffs as they were once again shutout in a 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals, succumbing to a strong performance from Yordano Ventura and the bullpen, pretty much ruining what should have been a very special day for Derek Jeter.
This will probably be what the Yankees take away from this season – the Derek Jeter goodbye tour. Jeter himself got a hit and a walk, reaching base twice, but stole most of the attention in the ceremony given to him, with Yankee greats and others (like Michael Jordan) paid tribute to the almost retiring player. The Royals tipped their hats to him, but their focus is on making the playoffs, something the franchise hasn’t been able to do since 1985, when they won the World Series.
The Royals haven’t been in the top spot of their division at this stage of the season since 1989. That’s how rare what’s happening to them is, holding a two game lead over the Detroit Tigers. They did drop one game in New York, but also won a couple, in both of them shutting out the Yankees, who have been struggling with their hitting all season long, mustering only four hits all game long.
The Royals did their scoring early, both runs coming off of Shane Greene, who gave up five hits in five innings while striking out four. One was an infield single by Norichika Aoki leading to an error from Greene which allowed Josh Willingham to score, and the other came an inning later (the third), as Eric Hosmer hit a single that brought home Alex Gordon while Hosmer himself was thrown out when attempting to reach second base.
As we’ve been following the Yankees in this past month, theoretically it’s not over for them. The Wild Card race is still open, but with every loss and the series they have waiting for them, which includes playing against the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles, even the most optimistic of Yankees fans are going to give up and realize that it’s going to be the first time in almost 20 years that the Yankees will miss the playoffs for two straight seasons.
The Royals have everything to play for still, obviously. They have two 3-game series against the Detroit Tigers to play which might determine the shape of the playoffs, and they finish the season with seven games on the road against the Indians and the White Sox. After ruining Derek Jeter day for the Yankees, it’s time to focus, without any sentimentality getting in the way, on clinching a very rare playoff spot for this team.