Yanks eliminated in race for AL Wild Card

Yanks eliminated in race for AL Wild Card

NEW YORK -- The Yankees recognized that their chances of reaching the postseason had faded, most recently following a four-game sweep at Fenway Park and then certainly when they lost three of four games to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre this past weekend.

With destiny out of their control, the Yankees' 2016 fate was decided on Thursday not at Yankee Stadium, but north of the border at Rogers Centre. As the Yanks polished off a 5-1 win over the Red Sox, the Orioles posted a 4-0 victory over the Blue Jays to officially eliminate the Yankees from the second American League Wild Card.

"It's not what we wanted. It's pretty quiet in there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Probably the quietest I've ever seen after a win. I think guys realize it came to an end tonight and it's difficult. There were some good things that happened, but in the end, we fell short. We didn't have a successful season."

Baltimore's win also eliminated the Astros from the AL Wild Card race. The Jays and O's are tied for the two AL Wild Cards, while Detroit is 1 1/2 games back and Seattle is 2 1/2 games back.

The victory was the Orioles' 87th; New York is 83-76 with three games left to play.

"It's tough," said CC Sabathia. "You always want to get to the playoffs and play well. We just came up a little bit short. Hopefully we can make that transition next year into the team we want to be and make it to the playoffs."

The Yanks had hoped to welcome the Orioles to New York on Friday with a chance to chase a miracle, but the out-of-town scoreboard told a different story by the top of the seventh inning against Boston.

"You know. You look and you see it's 1-0, 2-0, then it's 4-0 and obviously you can look at what inning, how many outs at times," Girardi said. "So, yeah, you're aware of what's going on."

Even though their season will end after Sunday's 162nd game, the Yankees might take some satisfaction in posting their 24th consecutive winning season, rallying after opening the year with a 9-17 start that kept them battling until June 10 to get back over the .500 mark.

"It's disappointing, but we gave ourselves a shot," Brian McCann said. "We were out of it there. I feel like our April was tough, and we were climbing uphill the rest of the way."

The Yanks continued to more or less tread water into August, and they were 53-53 on Aug. 3, when rookie catcher Gary Sanchez was summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

That followed deals that sent away Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova, with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner green-lighting the difficult decision to permit general manager Brian Cashman to sell off pieces in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Alex Rodriguez would be released later that month, with the callups of Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin officially signifying the full-fledged beginning of a Baby Bombers youth movement.

"Everybody gave up on us, that's the first thing," Didi Gregorius said. "And then we knew that we were not giving up. We all talked to each other. They made all the trades, but you've got to stay positive and push each other, help each other out any way we can. I think we scared everybody, to be honest, because nobody expected us to be all the way here. That's how I'd put it."

The Yanks' hopes buoyed most with a historic performance from Sanchez, who tied an 86-year-old Major League record by hitting his 20th home run in the 51st game of his career. That ultimately crumbled as they lost 11 of 14 games beginning on Sept. 11, sending the Yanks to their third dark October in four years.

"I only think about one thing: winning World Series," Girardi said. "That's all I think about. And when you don't make the playoffs, and when you don't even get a chance, it's hard."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com 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.