Yankees Triumph Over Blue Jays, But Playoff Chances are Gone

A.J. MartelliSenior Analyst ISeptember 23, 2008

The New York Yankees defeated the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Despite the win, the Yankees were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday night because the Boston Red Sox downed the Cleveland Indians to clinch the final possible AL East playoff berth.  The Yanks, however, did not eliminate themselves.

Mike Mussina started for the Yankees. He went five innings, gave up no runs on four hits, walked none, and racked up six strikeouts.

Jesse Litsch started for the Jays. He lasted seven innings, gave up three runs on five hits, walked one, and punched out eight.

The Yankees scored first in the top of the second inning. Robinson Cano grounded out to second, but Jason Giambi scored to put the bombers ahead 1-0.

In the bottom of the third, Travis Snider hit a sharp line drive that deflected off Mussina, and it gave the Yankees a scare. Mussina remained in the game, but had a huge welt on his elbow.

Giambi hurt the Blue Jays again in the top of the fourth, crushing a solo homer to right-center field, his 32nd long ball of the year, and the Yankees took a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees added a run in the top of the seventh. With Cody Ransom batting, Litsch tossed a passed ball which allowed Cano to score from third, although it did look like Cano was tagged out out at home plate. Litsch and Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston argued over the call with home plate umpire Larry Vanover but to no avail. 

The Blue Jays broke through in the bottom of the inning. Scott Rolen hit an RBI single to score Adam Lind, and the Jays then trailed 3-1.

Mariano Rivera came in to close out the game in the ninth. He struck Snider out looking to end the game.

Mussina gets the win, is now 19-9, and now has 269 career wins. He now sits alone in 33rd place on baseball's all-time wins list, putting Jim Palmer in the rear view mirror.

Mussina also is the only pitcher to win 19 games three times in his career without ever winning 20, but he gets a shot at 20 on Sunday at Boston.

Litsch gets the loss and falls to 12-9.

Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, and Joba Chamberlain all recorded holds, and Rivera nailed down his 38th save of the year.

"You can't look back, you can only learn from the things that happened during the course of the year," said Yankees' manager Joe Girardi after the game to Kim Jones of the YES Network. "We'll just need to finish strong, and come back and do better next year."

"It boils down to that we weren't good enough," said Derek Jeter to the media after the game. "We didn't play well enough all year to get to where we needed to be. The bottom line is that the best teams make it, and we weren't one of those teams."

Jeter sat out tonight due to a sore hand, but came into the game in the ninth inning for defensive purposes.

After 13 seasons, for the first time since 1994 to be exact, the Yankees will not be playing autumn baseball in New York. But as the old saying goes "there's always next year."

The Yankees will continue to finish up the 2008 campaign against Toronto tomorrow night at 7:07 ET.

Phil Hughes (0-4, 7.96 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against A.J. Burnett (18-10, 4.18 ERA).