NEW YORK -- The Yankees knew that their work was incomplete, even when more than 100 empty bottles of bubbly were transported to the recycling bin. Now that Didi Gregorius could miss the remainder of the regular season with a right wrist injury, their mission to hold off the Athletics
NEW YORK -- The Yankees knew that their work was incomplete, even when more than 100 empty bottles of bubbly were transported to the recycling bin. Now that Didi Gregorius could miss the remainder of the regular season with a right wrist injury, their mission to hold off the Athletics for home-field advantage in the American League Wild Card Game has grown more challenging.
After Yankees manager Aaron Boone referred to the rest of the schedule as "really important," they gave one of those contests away on Sunday. J.A. Happ hurled five solid innings, but A.J. Cole blew the lead, serving up back-to-back home runs to Timothy Beckham and Renato Nunez in the sixth. The Orioles kept the Bombers in the ballpark for a 6-3 victory in the final regular-season game at Yankee Stadium this season. The Yanks remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the A's after Oakland fell to Minnesota.
"We have guys who have stepped up for us a lot this year and that's part of it," Boone said. "That's part of a team and a 25-man roster. You've got to kind of lean on everyone, especially on certain days when you know it's going to be like that."
With his higher-leverage relievers unavailable -- Boone said that he couldn't call upon Dellin Betances, Albertin Chapman or Jonathan Holder -- the ball was handed to Cole, who was effective earlier this season but has pitched to a 9.60 ERA since July 31.
Trey Mancini greeted Cole with a double and Beckham slugged a game-tying homer before Nunez's blast chased the right-hander.
"We had him for the righties, which is where he's been the most successful all season, and [rookie Stephen] Tarpley up with him in case they hit a lefty in a spot," Boone said. "He just hung a breaking ball today and got hurt."
DJ Stewart came off the bench to lift a sacrifice fly off Tommy Kahnle to cap Baltimore's four-run sixth inning, then stroked a run-scoring double off Luis Cessa in the eighth.
"We fell behind a couple of times facing those guys over there," catcher Gary Sanchez said through an interpreter. "You can't get down. We lost this game. We have another one tomorrow."
Happ permitted a run on five hits, but needed 107 pitches to get the ball to the sixth inning. He has allowed one or no runs in four consecutive starts, and six of 10 since being acquired by the Yankees on July 26.
"I think today was a game I was hoping to get deeper into the game," Happ said. "I was battling out there, trying to keep it close and keep the lead. I would've liked to get another inning or two, but we got some pretty decent results for the time I was in there."
One day after celebrating the 54th postseason berth in franchise history, the Yankees seemed primed to make it a long day for the last-place Orioles in the first inning, especially when Alex Cobb was forced to exit after four pitches due to a recurring blister issue.
Three walks set up a Gleyber Torres sacrifice fly and run-scoring singles from Miguel Andujar and Sanchez, but Mike Wright Jr., Ryan Meisinger, Tanner Scott, Cody Carroll and Mychal Givens permitted the Yanks nothing else the rest of the way. The Yankees finished with 53 home wins, their best performance since 2009 (57).
"We just stalled out offensively," Boone said. "It's a frustrating way to end this homestand, but we've just got to get past it and get up."
Miguel Andujar had two of the Yankees' four hits, marking his 51st multi-hit game of the season. Andujar is just the fifth Yankees rookie since at least 1913 to reach that mark, joining Joe DiMaggio (66 in 1936), Earle Combs (65 in 1925), Tom Tresh (54 in 1962) and Ben Chapman (52 in 1930).
HE SAID IT
"It's really frustrating; now I'm not playing. We're going to take it day to day. We'll see how far it goes, but I have some movement in there. They say things like this happen to other players. Some of them have played through it. We're going to see how it goes. If it feels better, I'll be back in there so we can still make that playoff decision." -- Gregorius
The Yankees embark on their final road trip of the regular season on Monday, opening a four-game series with the Rays at Tropicana Field. The Yanks will spend the final week trying to lock up home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET, and while New York has yet to announce its starting pitcher, Diego Castillo will get the call for Tampa Bay.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.