September 25, 2020 | 11:04pm | Updated September 26, 2020 | 12:11am
They have talked about winning a World Series since March and Aaron Boone felt the same way after a gut-wrenching loss to the Marlins on Friday night at Yankee Stadium.
Yet, if the Yankees achieve their much-talked-about goal, they will have to do it on the road for the entire postseason.
Friday night’s 4-3 loss in 10 innings guaranteed the Yankees will be the visiting team against any club in the best-of-three wild-card series that opens Tuesday regardless of where it is played.
That means the Yankees, who are 21-8 at home and 11-18 away from The Bronx, will chase the World Series title entirely on the road. All games in the wild-card series will be played at the higher seed and the ALDS, ALCS and World Series will be held at neutral sites.
Based on the way they bungled their way through Friday night’s activity, winning a World Series seems like a longshot. Not only didn’t the Yankees hit, they also committed four errors for the second time in three games. They have dropped five of six with two regular-season tilts remaining.
“Haven’t played clean enough baseball,’’ said Boone, who was ejected by plate umpire John Tumpane in the first inning for challenging the low strike zone on Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks. “Obviously, we are going to have to do that if we want to reach our goals. Got to play better and tighter, keep working at it and executing better.’’
Gleyber Torres and Kyle Higashioka made throwing errors, the sure-handed Gio Urshela botched a grounder and Gary Sanchez was called for catcher’s interference for the third time in as many games behind the plate.
“Definitely have to find an adjustment there,’’ Sanchez said.
With two games left, the Yankees hold a one-game lead over the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East. They split 10 games this year and the Yankees would win the tiebreaker. Should the Yankees be passed by the Jays, they could slip into the first wild-card slot.
J.A. Happ put the Yankees in a 3-0 hole in the first inning when he issued a pair of two-out walks and gave up an opposite-field homer to right to former Yankee Garrett Cooper. The Yankees cut that to 3-2 in the third when Judge and Hicks delivered consecutive RBI doubles off Sandy Alcantara. They tied it, 3-3, in the eighth on Judge’s two-out bloop single to right.
However, Higashioka’s throw in a rundown between home and third hit Monte Harrison in the back to give the Marlins a big break they converted into a run on Jesus Aguilar’s sacrifice fly to right.
Despite Higashioka not getting a sacrifice bunt down with runners on first and second and no outs in the 10th, the Yankees loaded the bases against Brandon Kintzler when Clint Frazier drew a walk.
That brought up DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees’ most complete hitter. But his ground ball up the middle turned into a game-ending 6-3 double play that sent the Marlins and former Yankees great Don Mattingly, their manager, to the postseason.
“I liked our chances with DJ coming up and the bases loaded. DJ is one of the best players in the game, one of the best clutch situation hitters I have ever been around,’’ Judge said.
The Yankees are guaranteed a spot in the eight-team AL tournament. When they rebounded from a 5-15 stretch to win 10 straight, they appeared to have returned to being a team other clubs would be wary of playing.
Now, they have trouble catching and throwing the ball and scoring runs (five in the last three games).
To make a miserable night worse, the Yankees watched the Marlins celebrate on the Stadium’s hallowed ground.
“Not happy about it,” Judge said. “I don’t like it anytime somebody celebrates on our field.”
That is guaranteed not to happen this year.