At this time of the year Derek Jeter had the same answer to what was ahead of the Yankees in the upcoming postseason.
“It’s not always the best team that wins, it’s the team playing the best,’’ the Hall of Fame Yankees shortstop and captain explained.
Well, with his Marlins on the way to the postseason and joining the Yankees in the expanded playoff format, how the regular season ended Sunday doesn’t bode well for his former club.
Thanks to a 5-0 loss to the Marlins on Sunday at Yankee Stadium the Yankees finished the 60-game card having lost six of the final eight tilts.
That isn’t a recipe for postseason success, but beginning Tuesday against the Indians in Cleveland, the up-and-down Yankees (33-27) — who avoided falling to the eighth seed when the Blue Jays lost 7-5 to the Orioles — get a chance to rebound in the first game of a best-of-three wild-card series. Though the Yankees avoided having to face the Rays in the first round, they will draw Cy Young Award favorite Shane Bieber in Game 1, when the Yankees will counter with Gerrit Cole.
DJ LeMahieu went 2-for-3 and finished with a major league-leading .364 average. Luke Voit’s 22 homers also topped the majors. They are the first pair of teammates to lead the majors in batting average and homers since Hank Aaron (.355) and Eddie Mathews (46 HR) for the 1959 Braves.
LeMahieu is the fourth Yankee to lead the majors in hitting and ninth Yankee to win an AL batting title. According to Elias Sport Bureau, LeMahieu is the second player ever to win a batting title in each league. LeMahieu led the NL in 2016 with a .348 average while with the Rockies. The other player is Ed Delahanty, who hit .410 for Philadelphia (NL) in 1899 and .376 for Washington (AL) in 1902.
Clarke Schmidt’s initial major league start began well with a seven-pitch first inning, but he gave up three runs in the second and took the loss. In four frames he allowed three runs and four hits.
Even though AL postseason play shifts to Southern California for the league’s division and championship series, the Yankees could pay the price for not finishing with the best record among second-place AL teams because they are 22-9 in The Bronx and 11-18 outside of it.
The Marlins extended their lead to 5-0 in the eighth when Jazz Chisholm homered off Nick Nelson.
The Marlins removed Starling Marte in the second inning when he was hit in the bill of the helmet by a 94-mph fastball from Schmidt and starting pitcher Jose Urena in the third when LeMahieu’s liner hit him on the right arm. Urena reportedly suffered a broken forearm will be lost for the postseason.
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