It was a sloppy Friday night affair in the Bronx — one that left the Yankees’ final playoff position murky heading into the regular season’s final two games. The Yankees made four errors en route to a 4-3 loss to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings. The Marlins’ win clinched the team’s first playoff berth since 2003, when they went on to beat the Yankees in the World Series.
It was a game the Yankees may rue, as they now sit just one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Baltimore Orioles in Buffalo, leaving open the possibility that the Yankees could slip into the eighth seed in the American League and have to face their division nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays, in the first round.
The 10th inning was particularly costly: in the top half of the frame, with Chad Green on the mound and pinch-runner Monte Harrison on third with one out, Starling Marte hit a sharp grounder to Gleyber Torres with the infield drawn in. Torres chased Harrison toward the plate and tossed to Kyle Higashioka, in the game after Gary Sánchez was lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth, who then ran Harrison back toward third. But the catcher held on to the ball a moment too long and then rushed a throw that hit Harrison in the back as he safely reached third. That error set up Jesús Aguilar to hit a sac fly to right in the very next at-bat, which scored go-ahead run.
In the bottom half of the 10th, Higashioka again found himself at the heart of a Yankee misadventure. With Tyler Wade on second, Gleyber Torres on first and no one out, Higashioka tried to bunt the runners over. It was a feeble attempt from a clearly uncomfortable batter, as Higashioka popped the ball up in front of the plate, allowing Aguilar to charge in from first and make an impressive sliding catch. Wade and Torres engineered a double steal that effectively negated Higashioka’s failure, but, after a Clint Frazier walk, DJ LeMahieu ended up grounding into a game-ending double play.
The Yankees were playing catch-up for nearly the entire night. Starter J.A. Happ surrendered back-to-back two-out walks in the first inning before ex-Yankee Garrett Cooper made him pay with a three-run homer to right. Happ did settle down to give the Yankees five innings, after which the team got strong relief outings from Jonathan Loaisiga, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman to keep the game within reach.
Unfortunately, the Yankees could muster little off Marlins starter Sandy Alcántara, who was superb over 7.1 innings. The Yankees showed a spark of life in the third inning, as Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks provided consecutive two-out RBI doubles to get the Yankees on the board. Judge also drove in the Yankees’ third run, which tied the game, with two outs in the eighth inning. But that’s all the team would manage.
Manager Aaron Boone became a spectator early on, as he was tossed from the game by home plate umpire John Tumpane in the first inning after voicing his displeasure at a truly egregious called third strike against Judge that was closer to the right fielder’s ankles than his knees.
Boone may have hoped his ensuing argument with Tumpane would give his team a spark, but that never materialized. With time running out to get the Yankees’ ship moving in the right direction, they still need one.