Yankees’ postseason hopes vanish in 7-1 loss to Diamondbacks

New York Yankees' Anthony Volpe, right, strikes out with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning during a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in New York. Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno, left, looks on.

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New York Yankees 1, Arizona Diamondbacks 7

The New York Yankees faced a disheartening day at Yankee Stadium, as the storied franchise found itself officially eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2016. Despite a rainy and challenging day, the Yankees’ fate was sealed with a 7-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving their playoff aspirations in tatters.

The Diamondbacks, with a record of 82-73, continued their late-season resurgence, winning six of their last seven games. Their victory not only ended the Yankees’ playoff hopes but also marked a significant milestone for Arizona, as they clinched their first winning season since 2019. As the Diamondbacks celebrated their newfound success, they remained in a heated race for the National League’s second wild card, holding a crucial half-game lead over the Chicago Cubs.

What’s happening with the Yankees?

On the other side of the diamond, it was a somber moment for the New York Yankees. With a record of 78-77, the Yankees faced elimination from postseason contention with a full week of games left to play. This disappointing turn of events raised the possibility of the Yankees finishing the season with a losing record for the first time since 1992, a bitter pill to swallow for a franchise known for its rich history and consistent playoff appearances.

While the mathematical odds may not have been in the Yankees’ favor, they still had seven games remaining in the season. A perfect 7-0 finish could have granted them 85 wins, but it seemed like an uphill battle. The Baltimore Orioles (97 wins) and Tampa Bay Rays (95 wins) had already secured the top spots in the competitive AL East and the first wild card. The Toronto Blue Jays (87 wins) held the key to the second wild card, while the Texas Rangers (86 wins) remained in contention for the AL West title or a wild card spot. The race also included the Seattle Mariners (84 wins) and the Houston Astros (85 wins), who were set to face each other three times in the final week. In this high-stakes showdown, one of these teams would finish with more wins than the Yankees.

The game unfolded under challenging weather conditions, with persistent rain and gusty winds making fly balls unpredictable. Despite the adverse weather, Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks’ ace, delivered a standout performance. Gallen (17-8) allowed just three hits over six innings, striking out eight batters and walking two. His stellar outing included his fourth scoreless appearance of the season, cementing his status as one of the premier pitchers in the league.

The Diamondbacks wasted no time providing Gallen with run support. Tommy Pham and Christian Walker produced consecutive sacrifice flies in the first inning off Yankees’ starter Carlos Rodón (3-7). Those early runs proved to be enough for Gallen, who remained second in the league in wins, trailing only Atlanta’s Spencer Strider.

Evan Longoria extended the Diamondbacks’ lead with a two-run single, and Geraldo Perdomo contributed a sacrifice fly in a three-run seventh inning following an error by Yankees left fielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa and a wild pitch by Randy Vásquez. Walker added an RBI groundout in the eighth inning, while Gabriel Moreno capped the scoring with an RBI double in the ninth.

The Yankees, struggling to find their offensive rhythm throughout the game, narrowly avoided a shutout in the ninth inning when Aaron Judge drew a bases-loaded walk.

Despite a delayed start and unrelenting rain, both teams exhibited unwavering determination, emphasizing the importance of every game, even in the face of the Yankees’ postseason elimination.

In a lighthearted moment, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo considered reaching out to Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore for a weather forecast update before the game. Lovullo had met Cantore in Atlanta, thanks to Arizona television play-by-play announcer Steve Berthiaume. Lovullo’s proactive approach highlighted the intensity of the playoff race.

On the injury front, the Diamondbacks had to make a late lineup change as second baseman Ketel Marte was scratched due to illness. Meanwhile, the Yankees closely monitored the progress of right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas, who was recovering from a right elbow injury. Montas had made his second rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre the previous day, throwing 25 pitches. His potential return for the final week remained a topic of discussion.

What’s next?

Looking ahead to the next matchup, Arizona’s Merrill Kelly was set to take the mound against New York’s Clarke Schmidt in a Monday afternoon makeup game for Saturday’s postponed contest. Despite the Yankees’ postseason dreams coming to an end, every game carried significance as they aimed to finish the season on a high note.

Yankees’ playoff performance

202299-63Lost ALCS (4-0)
202192-70Lost ALWC (1-0)
202033-27Lost ALDS (3-2)
2019103-59Lost ALCS (4-2)
2018100-62Lost ALDS (3-1)
201791-71Lost ALCS (4-3)

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