For months and months, the New York Yankees did just enough to hang around and stay within striking distance of the second and final Wild Card spot in the American League. From mediocre starting lineups to inconsistent pitching to a plethora of injuries, it's truly amazing that the Yankees won as many games as they did during the stretch. But, on Wednesday night, any hope of New York actually making the playoffs was officially and mathematically squashed.
In what may have been his last outing in pinstripes, Phil Hughes lasted only two-plus innings, allowing three runs on seven hits before being yanked. But, despite the lackluster start from Hughes, the Yankees used an RBI double from Robinson Cano in the first and an Eduardo Nunez solo home run in the third to stay within striking distance. They were in striking distance, at least, until the top of the sixth inning, when David Huff surrendered back-to-back home runs to Evan Longoria and David DeJesus that gave the visiting Tampa Bay Rays a 7-2 lead.
From there, New York's fate was sealed. The home team did manage a run in the bottom of the eighth courtesy of a bases-loaded walk drawn by Lyle Overbay, but the Rays re-extended the lead to five on another Evan Longoria home run in the top of ninth, making the score 8-3.
It was an unofficial (the Yankees still have four regular season games remaining) but miserable ending to what was at times a miserable season. As previously mentioned, it has to be pointed out that the Yankees did pretty well in 2013, given the circumstances of which players were actually available. But, with that being said, these are still the New York Yankees. Missing out on the playoffs and losing between 75 and 80 games just isn't something that is supposed to happen to this franchise, regardless of the roster's talent level.
Tomorrow night, the Yankees again play host to the Rays in not only the final game of the series, but also New York's final home game of the season. And, with the club now being officially eliminated from the playoffs, the game will be the final time--regular season or postseason--that Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte play at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is again scheduled for 7:05 PM, with Ivan Nova getting the start against the Rays' Alex Cobb.