If at first (and second) you don’t succeed…
In order to clinch a postseason berth tonight, the Yankees need a win and two of the following three events to occur:
– A Minnesota loss (doubleheader at Cleveland, 4:10 p.m. ET),
– A Houston loss (at Seattle, 10:10 p.m. ET),
– Either a Texas loss (vs. Detroit, 8:05 p.m. ET) OR Los Angeles-AL loss (vs. Oakland, 7:05 p.m. ET).
Regardless of what any other teams do the rest of the season, if the Yankees win two more games, they are guaranteed at least a Wild Card spot.
It could be a night for the Yankees to celebrate, though they probably won’t be hanging around to spray any bubbly in the event that they score their first postseason berth since 2012. Why? It’s complicated, but here’s the deal — the Yankees must win while the Twins, Rangers and Angels all lose. If so, the Yanks would clinch a Wild Card berth.
(A previous rundown published here and on MLB.com did not include the Twins as part of the formula. Whoops.)
“A lot of things have to happen, and there’s a chance some of us will be in bed by the time those West Coast games are over,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We have to take care of business first. We have to win.”
So while they wait that out, the Yankees can still reach a milestone. Their next victory will be No. 10,000 in franchise history, which dates to the beginning of their life as the Highlanders of 1903 (their years as the Baltimore Orioles do not count).
The Yanks’ all-time regular season record is 9,999-7,564 (.569). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yanks will have the highest win percentage of any team at the time of their 10,000th win. The Giants held the previous mark, at .540.
Playoff picture: The Yankees (86-69) trail the Blue Jays (90-65) by four games in the American League East. New York leads the Astros (82-74) by 4 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.
Odds are: Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 100 percent chance of making the postseason, and a 2.1 percent chance of winning the division. FULL STANDINGS
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 28, 2015
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 28, 2015
— Masahiro Tanaka will return to the mound on Wednesday for one final regular season start, taking on the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in a start that should line him up to pitch the potential American League Wild Card game on additional rest.
“I’m not looking at this as a tune-up,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “You know, as I’ve done for each and every one of my starts, I’m going to go out there and give the best I have.”
— Chris Young is on the bench against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. Girardi said it was a “tough decision,” but he went with Brett Gardner because he has been swinging the bat better of late. Gardner will probably sit one day in this series, as will Jacoby Ellsbury, as the Red Sox are pitching left-handers Wade Miley and Rich Hill on Wednesday and Thursday.
— The Yankees are waiting on the results of concussion tests on Stephen Drew, which they believe could explain his recent bouts of dizziness.
— Nathan Eovaldi had his third day of playing catch; his previous sessions were at distances of 60 and 90 feet. Girardi said that he would not be ready to be on the roster for the Wild Card game, but could appear as a reliever in a subsequent round.
MLB Network’s three to watch
Alex Rodriguez is 4-9 AB (.444) with a home run in his career against Eduardo Rodriguez, while Jacoby Ellsbury is also 4-9 AB with two home runs vs. Rodriguez.
David Ortiz is batting .400 (10-25 AB) with two home runs lifetime against Nova.
Right-handed batters are hitting only .224 against Ivan Nova this season but lefties are batting .301 with an .853 OPS.
The Bombers are hitting only .221 with two home runs and a .565 OPS against lefties over their last 18 games (and might be looking at lefty Dallas Keuchel in the Wild Card game next week).
On this date
2008: Mike Mussina records his 20th win on the final day of the season at Fenway Park, becoming the oldest pitcher in history to win 20 games for the first time.
Here’s our public service announcement on how the Yankees could be doing some late celebrating tonight, with a big thank you to MLB.com stats guru Cory Schwartz:
The Yankees can clinch a postseason berth Monday if the Yankees beat the Red Sox, the A’s beat the Angels, the Tigers beat the Rangers and the Indians beat the Twins. That might mean some late scoreboard watching on the East Coast.
With two more wins, the Yankees would clinch a trip to the postseason outright.
The next game the Yankees win will be the 10,000th in franchise history.
Entering Monday, New York holds the top American League Wild Card spot, with Houston trailing by 4 1/2 games. The Angels trail the Astros by a half-game; the two teams are tied in the loss column. The Twins are 1 1/2 games out.
Yes, this will all be on the final exam. More importantly, it would mark the Yankees’ first appearance in the postseason since 2012.
The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the White Sox this afternoon, sending right-hander Adam Warren (6-7, 3.46) to the mound. Chicago gives the ball to left-hander John Danks (7-13, 4.59).
“I think the big thing for Adam is the first couple of innings, getting all of his pitches going, mixing all of his pitches and changing speeds,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It seems like he’s better in the later innings. The first couple of innings give him some trouble so we have to get him off to a better start.”
New York’s earliest possible playoff clinch date is Monday, and should that happen, Girardi said that he expects his players to celebrate and spray the bubbly. The Derek Jeters of the Yankee universe used to downplay the idea of celebrating a Wild Card berth, believing that they hadn’t reached their ultimate goal, but those times have changed.
“It’s an accomplishment,” Girardi said. “When you go to work after the season and you do your offseason training and your offseason moves are made and Spring Training and the grind — of course it’s a celebration. It should be a celebration.”
Playoff picture: The Yankees (84-69) trail the Blue Jays (88-65) by four games in the American League East. Toronto is in action this afternoon against the Rays. New York leads the Astros (80-74) by 4 1/2 games for the first Wild Card spot.
Odds are: Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 99.8 percent chance of making the postseason, and a 3.8 percent chance of winning the division. FULL STANDINGS
Tonight’s starting lineup: pic.twitter.com/NCh32k8yhe
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 26, 2015
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 26, 2015
— The Yankees have not yet decided when they will slot right-hander Masahiro Tanaka back into the rotation, but they do expect he will return to the mound this season. Tanaka tested his strained right hamstring with a 31-pitch bullpen session on Friday at Yankee Stadium and is going through treatment on Saturday afternoon.
— There is encouraging news regarding right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who played catch on Friday for the first time since being sidelined by right elbow inflammation. If Eovaldi is able to return during the postseason, it would be as a reliever.
MLB Network’s three to watch
Alex Rodriguez, who is just 2 for his last 23 at-bats, is slashing .202/.291/.462 with 8 HR and 20 RBI in the 33 games since Mark Teixeira got hurt. Teixeira had hit behind A-Rod in the fifth spot in the lineup for most of the season.
Rob Refsnyder has started the last two games at second base with a left-hander on the mound going 2-5 AB with a walk and a double. Meanwhile, Stephen Drew has not made a start since September 15th with Dustin Ackley starting five straight games at second before Refsnyder’s recent run.
Jose Abreu needs one homer and four RBI to join Albert Pujols (2001-02) as the only players in history to hit 30-plus homers with 100-plus RBI in each of their first two major-league seasons.
Since breaking out with 11 runs scored against the Mets last Sunday night, the Yankees have scored just 13 runs over their past five games (2.6/game), losing three of five.
On this date
2013: In his final career appearance, Mariano Rivera is removed from the game by Jeter and Andy Pettitte, who come out of the dugout to make the pitching change.
1998: David Cone earns his 20th win in his final start of the season, finishing 20-7 with a 3.55 ERA. It is the second of his two 20-win seasons (also 1988 with the Mets).
1961: Roger Maris hits his 60th home run of the season off the Orioles’ Jack Fisher in a 3-2 Yankees win, tying Babe Ruth’s Major League record.
The Yankees have arrived home to begin their final homestand of the season, welcoming the Chicago White Sox to town for a four-game series. Right-hander Michael Pineda (11-8, 4.10) draws the start for the Yankees, who have stacked their lineup with right-handed hitters against left-hander Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47).
There will be a pregame ceremony to honor Yogi Berra tonight at 6:50 p.m. ET. The Yankees will wear the No. 8 on their left uniform sleeve for the remainder of the season.
“It’s been a tough couple of days for us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Yogi meant so much to the organization, to the city, to all of us. For me, personally, I miss him. I had a chance to talk to him on Saturday before the game, and you never think that’s going to be the last time you’re going to talk to someone.
“I miss him. I miss having him around here. The laughs that we had. The knowledge that he gave me. How he always made you feel comfortable. It’s just not going to be the same.”
Playoff picture: Losing two of three in Toronto didn’t help the Yankees’ fading division chances much. The Yankees (83-68) now trail the Blue Jays (87-65) by 3 1/2 games in the American League East, but still lead the Astros (80-73) by four games for the first Wild Card spot.
Baseball Prospectus has the Yankees with a 99.8 percent chance of making the postseason, and a 7.8 percent chance of winning the division. FULL STANDINGS
Tonight’s starters in New York: pic.twitter.com/LjzUZVsqnd
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 24, 2015
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) September 24, 2015
— What’s up with this lineup? We’ll let Joe Girardi explain:
“Well, just the physical grind and the lefty that we’re facing today. Trying to get as many right-handed hitters in there as possible. Think about, we got back from Tampa at 4 in the morning. Get back, to, Toronto at 4 in the morning, get here at 3, 3:30 in the morning and it’s a physical grind and we still have 11 games to go and a long ways to go. Need to make sure these guys are healthy and being productive.”
— It would likely be in the Yankees’ best interest to line up Masahiro Tanaka to pitch the Oct. 6 one-game Wild Card playoff, but Girardi said that no decisions have been made on that front yet. All indications are that Tanaka’s hamstring is healing well, and he should be able to pitch early next week.
— The Yankees magic number to clinch a postseason spot is seven games.
MLB Network’s three to watch
Michael Pineda pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in a win vs the Mets his last time out. Pineda is 2-1 with a 4.67 ERA in five starts since returning from the disabled list (forearm). He is yet to throw over six innings or 100 pitches in any of those five starts.
Chris Sale gave up seven runs (one earned) over seven innings in a loss to the Indians in his last start. Sale is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA over his last four starts. He has given up 33 hits over 23.1 innings during that stretch.
Ex-Yankee Melky Cabrera, who hit his 100th career homer on Wednesday, is batting .400 (18-45 AB) with three homers and 13 RBI over his last eleven games.
The Yankees are 21-13 against the three teams that remain on their schedule (2-1 vs the White Sox, 10-5 vs the Red Sox and 9-7 vs the Orioles.
Alex Rodriguez needs one run scored to become the eighth player in Major League history with at least 2,000 runs scored.
On this date
1929: Yankees pitcher Tom Zachary improves to 12-0 with a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox. His mark remains the Major League record for most wins in a single season without a loss.
Quote to note
“I have one of the best jobs in the world. I get to come here every day and spend a lot of time learning from guys like Mac (Brian McCann), Alex (Rodriguez) and CC (Sabathia), sit on the bench with them and get some knowledge from them. They’re great at what they do and they’ve been around. It’s been a privilege, honestly, to be here and learn from them.” — Refsnyder.