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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Yankees watch as Astros trade for Zack Greinke to fortify starting rotation

Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks pitches during the

Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks pitches during the first inning against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

This is your team, Yankees fans. Love it, hate it or anything in between, you have to live with it because the trade deadline came and went on Wednesday afternoon without Brian Cashman making any big-league deals.

To those hitting refresh on Twitter all day and hoping to see that the Yankees had traded for Madison Bumgarner or Zack Wheeler or Shane Greene, it was almost cruel for the team to announce the one trade it did make at 4:05 p.m. on its official account:

“The Yankees have acquired LHP Alfredo Garcia from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for RHP Joseph Harvey.”

Alfredo Garcia is a Class-A pitcher with a 3-10 record and 6.00 ERA. He may never throw a pitch for the Yankees, but his name could go down in franchise lore — and not for a good reason — if this season goes sideways.

The refrain would be something like: “We wanted help. We wanted major-league arms. We got Alfredo Garcia.”

Then, it got worse.

A few minutes after the Yankees announced their mini-trade, word came that the Astros had acquired Zack Greinke from the Diamondbacks. The same Zack Greinke who had just thrown five innings and allowed two runs against the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon before a rain delay ended his outing.

It had to be a gut punch to Yankees fans. Not because they necessarily wanted Greinke — a great pitcher (2.90 ERA) who probably would not have waived his no-trade clause to come to New York — but because they wanted someone, anyone, to help the pitching staff make it to October and flourish once there.

The Yankees will most likely have to navigate through the Astros to get to the World Series. The Astros already have Justin Verlander, who ended the Yankees’ season in the ALCS in 2017 after Houston made the gutsy and expensive call to acquire him from the Tigers at the Aug. 31 non-waiver trade deadline (a deadline that no longer exists — there can be no more trades this season).

The Yankees, who were hoping to get under the luxury tax at the time, sat on their hands and wallets as Verlander went to Houston. They would live to regret it, and might again this year after the Astros made the gutsy and expensive call to add Greinke.

Verlander, in his last start on Tuesday against the Indians, threw seven shutout innings. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out 13 to improve to 14-4 with a 2.73 ERA.

Verlander dominated.

The Astros, with Verlander, Greinke and Gerrit Cole (12-5, 2.94 ERA, 212 strikeouts in 143 2/3 innings), now have three guys who can dominate.

Do the Yankees have one guy who can do that? No. Not with Luis Severino having thrown zero pitches in 2019. They didn’t have one before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and they still don’t.

“We didn’t get close to anything,” Cashman said. “But we certainly knocked on all doors.”

Asked about whether the Astros are now significantly better than the Yankees, Cashman said: “Let’s find out. We’ve got to play the season out.”

On Wednesday, the Yankees got four innings from their starter, Masahiro Tanaka. They have no starters with an ERA under 4.00. They are built from the back-end, with a strong bullpen, but Cashman didn’t acquire any relievers at the deadline, either, even though many were dealt.

The Yankees will point out that they won on Wednesday despite getting only four innings from Tanaka. Austin Romine’s two-run home run in the seventh inning turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead and the Yankees went on to beat Arizona, 7-5.

The win improved the Yankees’ record to 68-39, second-best in the AL at that moment. Who had the best record?

Oh, that’s right, the Astros, who were 69-39 going into their night game at Cleveland. That was before they added Greinke. And before the Yankees added Alfredo Garcia. A name that may, through no fault of Garcia’s own, end up living in Yankee infamy.

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