"Things are kind of slipping away at this point," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. "We're not out of it, but we're definitely not in a good position. It's frustrating."
After a torrid August during which the Yankees scored the second-most runs in the AL with 148, and went 17-11 to pull within striking distance of playoff contention, the offense has cooled down in September.
New York has been shut out five times during the month, including back-to-back games in the series finale against Tampa Bay on Thursday and the series opener in Toronto. Throughout those two games, the Yankees have gone 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 17 men on base. As a team, New York is 13th in the AL in runs in September.
"I know we lost another day," manager Joe Girardi said about the team's chances to gain ground. "It seems like most of the teams are winning or have won. We're going to need to win a lot of games."
The loss officially eliminated the Yankees from contention for the AL East title, while also dropping New York's elimination number in the Wild Card race to six. With three games left against the Blue Jays and then a six-game homestand against the Red Sox and Orioles, the path to contention only gets tougher in what's primarily been an exciting second half for a rejuvenated Yankees team. The experience, however, could prove to be invaluable for the youthful core.
"The young guys, quite a few of them obviously, have been a big part of what we've been doing these last few months," Gardner said. "If it wasn't for those guys, we probably wouldn't have climbed back into contention in the first place. I'm really proud of those young guys and the way they've handled themselves through good and bad over the last few months.
"It's been a good learning experience for them and their developmental process at the Major League level. I still think the world of all those guys. They have bright futures ahead of them. It's up to the older guys to show them that even though things may not be looking good, we still have ballgames left to play and that we owe it to the Yankees and to our fans to go out there and finish strong."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.