Yankees miss playoffs for 2nd time in 19 years
The New York Yankees failed to make the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, getting mathematically eliminated Wednesday night while they were losing to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hobbled by age and injury, the Yankees (82-76) were trailing 7-3 in the eighth inning when they were knocked out as the Cleveland Indians completed a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox. There was no reaction from the Yankee Stadium crowd when the Indians result was posted on the scoreboard.
Despite baseball's highest opening-day payroll at $230 million, the Yankees failed to claim one of the 10 playoff berths.
Since starting the latest run of success in 1995, New York had missed the playoffs only in 2008 -- when the team bid goodbye to old Yankee Stadium. This time, the Yankees are saying goodbye to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who are retiring when the season ends Sunday.
"We didn't get to where we wanted to get," manager Joe Girardi said after it was finished.
"It's extremely disappointing, and back to the drawing board. It hurts."
Since starting the latest run of success in 1995, New York had missed the playoffs only in 2008 -- when the team bid goodbye to old Yankee Stadium.
Before a quiet crowd of 37,260, the Yankees lost for the eighth time in 11 games and were eliminated from contention for a playoff berth on their own field for the first time since 1991.
Fans figure to be more exuberant during Thursday night's home finale, when Rivera will make his final Yankee Stadium appearance.
"I'll be there for the fans. They deserve it," the 43-year-old said. "But it don't mean anything. I'm not used to pitching for something that doesn't mean anything. I wanted to pitch for something that means something.
"It's disappointing. Can't do anything about it now. It's done. It is disappointing. We fought hard the whole year and we fell short."
Phil Hughes (4-14) allowed three runs and seven hits in two innings-plus Wednesday night, walking slowly to the dugout and looking up to the stands when he was removed from what likely was his final start with the Yankees.
"Just a tough way to end things here -- not making the postseason," Hughes said.
A key part of the Yankees' 2009 title team as a reliever, Hughes went 0-7 with a 6.09 ERA in 13 starts since beating Minnesota on July 2. He is eligible for free agency after the World Series.
"A lot of good times. A lot of bad times, I guess," he said. "That's the way life is sometimes."
Joba Chamberlain, also eligible for free agency, didn't even wait for mathematical elimination to prepare for his departure. Before batting practice, he started putting his locker belongings into a large box.
New York started the season 30-18 and was in first place on the morning of May 26, but the solid start was not enough to overcome injuries to four All-Star regulars: shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Mark Teixeira and center fielder Curtis Granderson.
Hobbled by the ankle he broke in last year's AL Championship Series opener, Jeter didn't make his season debut until right before the All-Star break and wound up playing just 17 games because of recurring leg injuries.
Teixeira, who injured a hand while with the U.S. team at World Baseball Classic, played in just 15 games and needed season-ending surgery. Rodriguez, coming back from hip surgery, and Granderson, who broke a forearm and pinkie when hit by pitches, each played about one-third of the season.
In all, the Yankees had a major league-leading 28 stints on the disabled list by 21 different players, according to STATS, and have missed 1,461 days -- more than four years' worth.
New York's home runs dropped from a team-record 245 last year to 143 this season -- on pace to be the Yankees' fewest in a non-strike season since 1989. The departure of free agents Raul Ibanez, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez contributed to the power outage.
"It's a really sad feeling," said Robinson Cano, the All-Star second baseman who figures to secure a nine-figure contract this offseason. "The fun part of this game is playoffs. I'm really sad right now, and it's going to stick in my head, in my mind, until next season."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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