Game 162. Thanks to Arizona, Yanks get WC game at home.

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The Yankees ended the season by losing six of their last seven games, ending at 87-75, but will host the wild-card play-in game because Arizona beat Houston 5-3 in the last game of the season.

Ugh. No one likes to “back into” anything.

Michael Pineda was knocked out in the fourth inning today. More discouraging to Yankees’ fans was who replaced him. First Chris Capuano, who was DFA’d FOUR times by the Yanks this year, then Bryan Mitchell, who hasn’t been the same since he was hit in the face by a liner. As someone wrote, the two guys (out of 20 on the expanded roster) with the highest ERAs of anyone with over 8 IP.

The offense disappointed again today, going 1 for 12 with RISP in the 9-4 loss. This isn’t the way you want to enter the playoffs.

Pineda gave up two in the first, but the Yanks did get a run back in the second on an RBI groundout by Ackley, one guy who is hot lately.

But the O’s got 3 in the fourth and the way the Yanks have been playing lately, that was enough. At that point, Yankees’ fans were hoping for Arizona to beat Houston.

Two in the fifth by the Orioles made it 7-1 and ensured that the Yanks would get swept in Baltimore.

The Yanks got one back in the sixth on a Gregorius triple and two in the seventh on a Bird single and Ackley RBI groundout. It made it 7-4 but a two-run HR by Chris Davis (MLB HR leader with 47) made the score 9-4, the final.

The Yanks need to send a BIG gift to Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, whose two-run HR won the game for Arizona and gave the home field advantage for the wild card game to the Yankees.

The Yanks finished 87-75, three games better than last year and two games better than in 2013. Mark Teixeira was (according to WAR) their best player this year by an eyelash over Dellin Betances. The problem, of course, is that Teix missed the last 40 games of the year, and will miss all of the postseason, with a broken leg.

Attendance this year was the lowest since 1998.

So the Yanks will face Houston Tuesday night at home, and although I will be rooting hard for the Yanks (winner goes to KC), it isn’t promising. Still, anything could happen in one game.

But…

it’ll be Tanaka (12-7,  3.51) vs. Keuchel (20-8, 2.48). Keuchel beat the Yanks twice this year, pitching a CG six-hit shutout with 12 K on June 25, and pitching seven innings of 3-hit shutout ball on August 25 with 9 K. 16 IP, 0 R, 9 H, 1 walk and 21 K. Ugh. The Yanks can only hope he is off (3 days rest) on Tuesday night.

Tanaka faced Houston once this year, and it wasn’t good. 6 R in 5 IP on June 27.

The Yanks are a lefty-leaning lineup that has been hurting without the switch-hitting Teixeira’s bat from the right side.

Against the lefty Keuchel, you wonder what Girardi will do with the lineup, especially since lefty hitters Ellsbury (ended the year at .257, terrible for a table-setting leadoff hitter making $22MM and who is just .224-6-27 with just 7 SB since coming off the DL July 8). That is certainly NOT setting the table as the leadoff hitter.

McCann is 8 for 58 since Sept. 12. (.138).

Gardner, like Ellsbury, finished under .260. That is NOT setting the table. You wanted both to hit .280-.290 with about 35-40 SB apiece. Instead both finished under .260 with 41 SB—–COMBINED.

Since September 12, Gardner is 12 for 72….  .167.  I don’t mean to discourage, but those are three lefty bats all struggling, and you are facing a lefty pitcher in Keuchel on Tuesday night.

Since Sept 12, Headley is 12 for 71… slightly better than the .167 of Gardner, and Headley is a switch-hitter.  Another struggling.

Does Girardi have the guts to go with Refsnyder at 2B,  Murphy at C and Young in CF or LF, especially since McCann, Ellsbury and Ellsbury have been struggling so badly? Does he play Ackley in LF for the struggling Gardner?

Does he take it one step further and play Ryan at 3B?

With Ellsbury, McCann, Gardner all struggling, could he go with an innovative lineup vs. Keuchel such as…

Young CF
Refsnyder 2B
A-Rod DH
Beltran RF
Bird 1B
Murphy C
Ackley LF
Gregorius SS
Ryan 3B

Tanaka P

and bring off the bench if needed against a righty pitcher Ellsbury, McCann, Headley and Gardner?

I doubt it. But those four have been killing the Yanks recently. If in the lineup, they have to wake up.

As for today…

Pineda (L, 12-10, 4.37) 3 2/3 IP, 4 R,  6 H, 0 walks and 5 K.
Capuano 1/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 walk and 0 K. 7.97
Mitchell 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 2 walks and 0 K. 6.37
Pazos 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walks and 2 K. 0.00 (don’t see how they don’t take him for the postseason roster).
Bailey 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 walks and 0 K. 8.31
Pinder 1 IP, 0 r, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 2.93 (Should merit consideration).
Wilson 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 3.10
Miller 1/3 IP, 1 R, 0 H, 1 walk and 0 K. 2.04
Cotham 1/3 1 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K 6.52 

You hope Tanaka can give you 7 strong (preferably scoreless) and then go to Wilson, Betances and Miller. The bullpen has been shaky lately, showing signs of wear. But Tanaka has to have a good game and go deep.

The Yanks have to play littleball, which they haven’t played (or been good at) this year. They can’t expect to bomb Keuchel out. They have to scratch for runs, steal, hit and run, bunt runners over and not go, say 0 for 10 with RISP. They must take advantage of all their opportunities.

And Joe Girardi must go for broke. I’m interested in what lineup he puts out there Tuesday night; if he benches some guys.

I remember Billy Martin benching Reggie Jackson for Game 5 of the 1977 ALCS for Paul Blair because Reggie could not hit Splittorff.

Maybe Girardi channels Martin and benches some guys.

We will see.

One game. Let’s go Yankees.

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