The 2021 New York Yankees — the preseason favorite to win the American League that only trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers in World Series odds — finished the year 92-70 and got bounced in the AL Wild Card Game against an overachieving Boston Red Sox team.
The writing was on the wall since April. Low energy. No outward motivation. Failure to deliver in big spots (whether it was hitting or pitching). Lame postgame interviews. Lack of accountability. Awful personnel and managerial decisions. The list goes on.
This team has been rotten. We’ve known it. But it was nice to forget about it during the Yankees 34-11 stretch across 45 games and then their 9-3 finish to end the season and clinch a playoff spot. They made us believe they could possibly make up for unforgivable transgressions over the better part of five months.
But how? They snuck into the postseason as a the road team against a Red Sox side that wasn’t even supposed to be there! They finished eight games back in a division they were supposed to win. They were the FIFTH-BEST team in the AL and the Blue Jays were arguably better!
Stupid us. We are dumb. The regular-season play defined this team. And it ultimately sealed their fate. Just imagine if the Yankees didn’t punt as many games as they did this year. Just imagine if they didn’t continually allow their rivals to get the last laugh at nearly every turn. Just imagine if they were able to not lose EIGHT TIMES to the worst team in baseball.
Yes, we’re yelling, because there were SO many once-in-a-lifetime losses that kept the Bombers from hosting the AL Wild Card Game. They had 70 tries to make it not come to this.
These five unforgivable regular-season losses sealed the Yankees’ 2021 fate.
5. Justin Wilson’s meltdown in Detroit
At the time, it sounded much worse, but the Yankees got swept by the Detroit Tigers back in May. It’s still really bad … just not as bad as it would’ve been from 2018-2020.
And it all started on Friday night, when the Yankees couldn’t score runs against Casey Mize and a mediocre Tigers bullpen. And of course, it came down to extra innings. Manager Aaron Boone decided to save Justin Wilson for the free baseball.
After taking a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th, Wilson needed one out to secure the win. One. He got the first two with the free runner on base. Unfortunately, he got squeezed on a would-be strike-three call to Robbie Grossman, which extended the at-bat and made it a full count. Payoff pitch. Here we go.
A 93 MPH fastball was obliterated into the left-field seats. The Tigers walked off the Yankees in extras. This was a Gerrit Cole start, by the way! Forgot to mention that!
You cannot challenge major league hitters with that kind of velocity. But Wilson did, and that brought his season ERA up to 6.08. He was never to be heard from again after the July 30 trade deadline.