KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees were officially eliminated from playoff contention last Sunday and missed the postseason for the first time since 2016. They did, however, manage to keep a far longer streak intact in an otherwise lost 2023 season.
With Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the Royals, the Yankees (82-79) clinched their 31st straight winning season, the second-longest such streak in MLB history behind the 39 straight winning seasons the franchise put together from 1926-64.
“We’re going home tomorrow, so that’s inevitably kind of the takeaway from our season,” Aaron Boone said. “We expect to be playing in October, and the fact we’re not going to be doing that beyond tomorrow is tough. I am proud of the group and I do think there’s tremendous opportunities for growth through adversity and through what’s been a tough season. We’ve been through a lot this year and I’m super-pleased with how these guys have shown up and continued to get after it . . . in a season that hasn’t been what we expected. I’m glad we’re finishing this way and playing with a purpose, but in the end, it’ll be hard to watch games next week.”
Kyle Higashioka, the longest- tenured Yankee (drafted in 2008) and possibly playing his final game for the club, said for him, finishing with a winning record was a motivation.
“At this point, for me, that was one of the last things to play for,” he said. “At least we can try to have a winning season and we don’t have to say we were a losing team per se. That’s just a point of pride at the end of the year.”
Estevan Florial’s one-out RBI single in the sixth inning snapped a 2-2 tie and Gleyber Torres’ two-out, two-run single later in the inning made it 5-2.
Clarke Schmidt allowed two runs and eight hits in four innings before giving way to Frankie Montas, who picked up the victory. Montas, the headline addition at the 2022 trade deadline who arrived with a bad right shoulder and who had been out all season after undergoing surgery on the shoulder in February, allowed two hits and a walk in 1 1⁄3 innings. Montas, a free agent after the season who is open to returning (it’s not clear how much the Yankees want him back), struck out one.
“Shoulder feels really, really good,” he said.
With runners on second and third and none out in the sixth, Montas struck out Logan Porter. Greg Weissert then struck out Nick Pratto and Maikel Garcia.
The Yankees had two hits apiece from Torres, Higashioka and DJ LeMahieu.
Clay Holmes struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 27 chances.
“Obviously, we fell short of what we set out to do this year,” Schmidt said. “None of us are happy about what happened this year, but the least we can do is continue to compete to the end. We’re not going to mail it in at all.”