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Yankees clinch playoff spot, but potentially lose Didi for season

The New York Yankees’ up and down season took another turn when they clinched a date in the Wild Card game with the Oakland A’s but also lost one of their leaders potentially for the season.

Aaron Hicks delivered a double in the bottom of the 11th to give the Yankees a 3-2 victory and a champagne celebration.  This was the second straight year the Yankees have clinched a Wild Card berth and the third in four years.

However, ironic as it is, Didi Gregorius, who scored the game winning run sliding head first into home plate, partially tore his wrist and could miss the rest of the season.  The Yankees do not know the severity of Gregorius’ injury but all signs point to him not being available for the postseason.  It’s a huge blow for a team that’s dealt with more than their fair share of injuries throughout the season.  Injuries happen in baseball, but over the course of the year the Yankees have lost Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and now Didi Gregorius for an extended period of time.  Regardless of who can fill in for him, this loss does not bode well for the Yankees’ World Series hopes, as Didi is both a clubhouse leader and a clutch player on offense and more importantly defense.

Replacing Didi and looking forward

It’s not that the Yankees can’t replace Didi offensively, because Gleyber Torres can slide into his spot and Neil Walker can move to second base.  Where they cannot replace Didi is his clutch nature at the plate and his impeccable defense.

Torres is as good a rookie as the Yankees have seen in years (not named Miguel Andujar) but his defensive woes have continued throughout the season.  His latest mental lapse was against the Boston Red Sox in the top of the ninth when he let two balls go off his glove when attempting a double play.  In fairness, the second throw by Zach Britton was brutal but Torres still needs to be better.

Looking forward, the Yankees took two of three against the Baltimore Orioles but still are only 1.5 games ahead of the Oakland A’s for home-field advantage and Aaron Boone reverted to his old “make sure everyone gets in” routine when he put A.J. Cole into a 3-1 game Sunday.  Cole proceeded to lose the lead and the Yankees lost 6-3 in a game that could have easily been won.

The sole focus of the Yankees is to win as many games as they can in the next week against the red hot Tampa Bay Rays (who they have a lot of trouble with) and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox can have home-field advantage wrapped up on Sunday night so they might not have anything to play for, but they would like nothing more than to spoil the conquest of the Yankees.

At the end of the day, the Yankees still have an extremely talented team.  However, Didi Gregorius is an essential part of this ballclub and losing him for the rest of the season would be one of the biggest speed bumps in a year filled with them.  If the Yankees are going to go deep in the playoffs, they’re going to need to buckle down, win some games, and play a tight, mistake free game against Oakland.  If not, the Yankees will be going home early once again.


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