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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Yankees will have to weather storm and slew of lefthanders

Didi Gregorius #18 of the New York Yankees

Didi Gregorius #18 of the New York Yankees walks back to the dugout after striking out to end a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

All the scenarios about which team the Yankees would face in the AL wild-card game and whether they'd be able to avoid Astros lefthander Dallas Keuchel next Tuesday may have to take a backseat to concerns about them actually clinching a playoff spot.

And the weather.

The first one the Yankees can do something about. The second one, not so much.

For the second straight game, the Yankees lost to the Red Sox Tuesday night, 10-4. Boston scored six runs in the first inning against Michael Pineda and held on despite the Yankees scoring four in the bottom of the first.

The best-case scenario going in was the Yankees winning and then waiting to see if the Twins and either the Rangers or Angels lost. Since the Angels game was a 10:05 p.m. start, the Yankees possibly could have clinched a playoff spot while in their jammies.

It all became moot when the Twins were rained out in Cleveland, and more moot when the Yankees lost. So everything shifts to Wednesday night.

That's if they get the games in Wednesday night, or Thursday night, or over the weekend in Baltimore. The forecast for the rest of the week is, as Joe Girardi so eloquently put it, "bad."

The Blue Jays were rained out in Baltimore, causing a reign delay for Toronto. The Blue Jays' magic number to clinch the AL East is one after the Yankees' loss.

The Yankees remain in prime position to host the wild-card game against the Astros, Angels, Rangers, Twins or (not gonna happen) Indians.

The best matchup for the Yankees would seem to be the Twins, who are plucky and lovable and never beat the Yankees in the playoffs.

The worst would seem to be the Astros because of the Yankee-killing lefthander Keuchel, who Houston would be wise to line up to pitch in the Bronx on three days' rest.

Keuchel is 19-8 with a 2.47 ERA. He is tentatively scheduled to start on Friday. Keuchel has extreme home/road splits (15-0, 1.46 ERA at home, 4-8, 3.82 on the road).

But the more vital numbers are from his two 2015 starts against the Yankees: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 IP, 9 H, 1 BB, 21 Ks. That includes a seven-inning gem on Aug. 25 at Yankee Stadium, which you may have noticed is not in Houston.

That game is notable as the last one Mark Teixeira started. The Yankees offense, especially against lefthanded pitching, has taken a powder since Teixeira went out for the season with a fractured leg.

"We just need to relax," said Alex Rodriguez, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. "Everyone's anticipating and it's just important to keep it one day at a time, one pitch at a time, at-bat at a time. We've been doing it all year. Nothing's going to be easy, so this is very predictable. Try to come back and play good Yankee baseball, and we will."

The Yankees will face lefthanded starters the next three nights. In the wild-card game, they could face any number of southpaws: Keuchel or Scott Kazmir (Astros), Cole Hamels, Derek Holland or Martin Perez (Rangers), Andrew Heaney or Hector Santiago (Angels) or Tommy Milone (Twins).

"It's something we know we have to get better at," Girardi said. "It's something we're trying to address . . . We've played with some different ideas."

Ideas? A-Rod at first? Benching Brett Gardner and playing Chris Young (.953 OPS vs. lefties)? Dusting off Gary Sanchez?

No. John Ryan Murphy took grounders at first base Tuesday.


If putting your backup catcher in the lineup at a position he's never played is the answer, maybe the Yankees should pray for rain after all.

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