Yankees' rollercoaster season comes down to Game 162: 'We’ve got to win'

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Jameson Taillon side angle pinstripes
Jameson Taillon side angle pinstripes

The Yankees had a chance to clinch one of the two American League Wild Card spots on Saturday, but things certainly didn’t go to plan as the Tampa Bay Rays came away with a 12-2 blowout win in the Bronx.

With Toronto defeating the Orioles on Saturday, the Yankees will now have to wait until Sunday to potentially clinch, which they’d be able to do with a win. If the Yankees lose on Sunday, there are a number of possible scenarios in play between New York, Toronto, Boston, and Seattle for who gets the two Wild Card spots.

After the high of sweeping Boston last weekend, everything now comes down to the final game of the year for the Yankees.

“Obviously, a real tough day,” said Aaron Boone. “They jumped out to a lead on us early and obviously kept adding on. Just a bad day for us, and we’ve got to get over it quickly.”

The Rays jumped out to a 7-1 lead by the end of the third inning, a point in the game that starter Jordan Montgomery could not reach individually. The left-hander gave the Yankees just 2.2 innings while allowing three home runs, putting the Yankees in a huge hole that they weren’t able to get out of.

“Just couldn’t throw strikes, got behind some counts, and didn’t execute many pitches,” Montgomery said.

“It just sucks. I wanted to give our guys a better outing.”

While Boone didn’t immediately announce a starter while meeting with reporters after the game, the team later revealed that Jameson Taillon will get the start. Taillon last pitched on Tuesday night, but he left the game after re-aggravating an ankle injury that previously forced him to miss time.

So after a season of hot and cold streaks where the Yankees looked unbeatable at their best and miserable at their worst, everything comes down to the final game of the season.

“We’ve got to win. It’s as simple as that,” Brett Gardner said. “The same mindset coming into yesterday and coming into today. Obviously, here we are going into Game 162 not knowing what the future looks like. So obviously we can still control our own destiny in a way. Just important to obviously show up and play a little better than we did today. We got embarrassed today and it’s obviously not a good feeling.

“We’re playing a really good team and we just got beat today in all facets.”