Tough stretch has Yankees down but not out

Tough stretch has Yankees down but not out

BOSTON -- The Yankees figured that their ninth-inning collapse on Thursday was probably historic in nature, and a good deal of research went into confirming that it was. After following it with two more losses to the Red Sox, their postseason chances may also soon be history.

It might not have been as agonizing as losing a contest in which they were up by three runs with two outs in the ninth inning, but Saturday's 6-5 loss at Fenway Park stung all the same. This time, Mookie Betts charged home on a seventh-inning Adam Warren wild pitch with the deciding run, sending the Yanks to their fourth straight defeat.

"Forty-eight hours ago, we were still in a really good spot," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "But just these last few days, everything has happened fast. When you lose to a team that's in front of you three times in a row, things get worse in a hurry."

The Yanks have lost six of their last seven games, and it is impossible not to wonder about some lingering hangover from Thursday's stunning defeat, when Hanley Ramirez blasted a walk-off, three-run homer off closer Dellin Betances in one of the most memorable games of the season.

That marked the first time since June 1908 -- when the Yankees were still the Highlanders, and nearly four years before Fenway Park opened its gates -- that the Red Sox were down to their final out and rallied from three or more runs down to beat New York.

As Gardner noted, a win there would have placed the Yankees just three games out in the American League East chase; instead, they now stare at a seven-game deficit and need to jump four teams in the Wild Card chase. The math is not impossible, but it's also not pretty.

"Sure, it's tougher, but people thought it was tough Aug. 1, didn't they?" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "All of a sudden, we were one game back in the Wild Card. We have a lot of work to do and we have to win a lot of games, but I'm not giving up."

New York didn't mount much of a charge in Friday's 7-4 loss, but it came out swinging on Saturday against David Price. Gary Sanchez's 15th homer highlighted a three-run third inning and Austin Romine pelted the Green Monster with a two-run double in the fourth, but Boston's relentless lineup created a sense that the lead was not safe.

"We're not getting shut out," Gardner said. "We've scored five, four, five -- 14 runs in three games. That should have been good enough to win one, but we've lost all three."

Xander Bogaerts' two-run homer in the fifth inning chased Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell, and after Luis Severino danced out of trouble in the sixth, Boston claimed its first lead in the seventh. By that point, it had already been a painful day for the Yanks, who lost both Starlin Castro and Jacoby Ellsbury to injuries.

That didn't improve much as Betts' chopper cleared shortstop Didi Gregorius for a game-tying single off Warren, who then uncorked a wild pitch that skipped away from catcher Romine as Betts broke for home with the go-ahead run. Romine recovered to tag out Ramirez also trying to score, but Craig Kimbrel slammed the door for a four-out save.

"We know we're making it tough on ourselves, but don't expect this group to give up until we're eliminated," Warren said. "I don't think anybody here thinks we're completely out of it now, but we know it's going to be tough. We know we're going to have to win almost every game just to get back in this thing."

They'll try to take solace in recalling their recent seven-game win streak and that 11 of their remaining 14 contests are against the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles, all teams they are trying to catch. Of course, that line of thought only can help if they start winning games -- immediately.

"You put a streak like you did the week before and you're right back in it," Girardi said. "Obviously, it has to start [Sunday]. We've lost some really tough games."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.