In the Bronx, the New York Yankees had a three-run lead after four innings over the Tampa Bay Rays. It looked like they might move to two games behind Boston in the American League East with three to play. Catching the Red Sox would still be a daunting task, but not impossible, especially with the Astros in Boston. At the very least, they were about to make Beantown a little nervous.
Girardi explained his decision after the game, saying with two outs in the fifth, he wanted Holder to get one out to stop the bleeding. When Holder entered, the Yankees were down only a run, but he instead allowed all three batters he faced to reach. If Holder had been successful, Girardi had a plan set up.
"It was unfortunate," said Gray, who likely would start Game 1 of an American League Division Series, should the Yankees advance. "I wasn't able to go out and shut them down."
That rendered Girardi's plan moot, and the manager was left lamenting the Yankees' missed opportunity afterward.
"It's frustrating," Girardi said. "We had a chance to pick up a game."
The Yankees still can hope for a miracle, but their chances of winning the division are very slim. They are three out with three to go. If they were to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Astros win the final three games of their series in Boston, the Yankees would get a chance to play the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the division. The reward for victory would be going to either Cleveland or Houston.
If they simply finish second in the division, go to the wild-card game and win that, their fate would be the same.
Even if the Yankees had won on Thursday, a division title was still a long shot. They didn't, and now it is longer. The Yankees play at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday. By the end of the afternoon or evening, it might be over.