NEW YORK (AP) — With the days of Derek Jeter’s glorious career playing for the New York Yankees dwindling down to a precious few, fans continue to fill Yankee stadium for one last look and photo, one last thrill. Wednesday afternoon got them 4 hitless Jeter at-bats as a DH, but the rest will soon be mercifully forgotten.
Wasting a three-run lead and ultimately losing 9-5 loss to Nelson Cruz and the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention,
Jeter went 0 for 4 as the designated hitter in his next-to-last game home game, ending a seven-game hitting streak and dropping his average to .253.
The Yankees missed the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1992 and ’93. The only other time New York missed the playoffs during in the retiring captain’s 20-season big league career was in 2008.
“It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “This is not where you want to be at this time of year.”
Trying to play through injuries to four-fifths of their starting rotation, the Yankees are 81-77 and still trying to ensure a 22nd straight season with a winning record. New York played the entire season without star third baseman Alex Rodriguez, suspended following a drug investigation by Major League Baseball.
The Yankees were eliminated with four games remaining for the second straight year. They are scheduled to end the home portion of their schedule Thursday night, when Jeter is expected to be lauded by fans for a career that included five of New York’s 27 World Series titles. Rain is in the forecast.
Baltimore, headed to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, began the day 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels, who play at Oakland.
Cruz had two of his four singles and slugger Adam Jones a safety squeeze in a six-run fourth for Baltimore, which is trying to overtake the Los Angeles Angels for the AL’s best record and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
As they have throughout the final homestand, fans stood, cheered and chanted “De-rek Je-ter!” for each of the captain’s at-bats during a rare September mid-week afternoon game. Even though Jeter was the designated hitter, the Bleacher Creatures included Jeter in the first-inning roll call. Jeter wasn’t in the dugout to acknowledge them with the customary wave.
Stars were out to say goodbye to Jeter, though. Former teammates Tino Martinez, Gerald Williams and Cecil Fielder were on hand as was Mo Vaughn, the 1995 AL MVP with Boston. Willie Randolph, a former Yankees co-captain and coach, caught a foul ball behind home plate.
Jeter was given an extended ovation after he tapped out to first base in the eighth but he remained seated in the dugout and did not come out for the curtain call. The game ended when Brett Gardner struck out looking with Jeter on deck.
Bud Norris (15-8) fell behind 3-0 despite getting seven of his first nine outs by strikeout. He allowed a leadoff homer in the second to Stephen Drew then fanned five straight, a string stopped in the third inning with Chase Headley’s long ball.
Norris improved to 9-1 against the division in 14 starts. He allowed three runs and five hits in six innings and struck out nine.
Shane Greene (5-4) loaded the bases in the third but got Jones to ground into an inning-ending forceout. The rookie had no such success in the fourth inning, when the Orioles sent 11 men to the plate and scored three times with two outs.
Ryan Flaherty had a bases-loaded two-run double and David Lough an RBI triple. Greene exited to boos after Jones bunted toward third base with Headley playing deep for a 6-3 lead.
Mark Teixeira had an RBI double and two-run homer for New York.
Orioles: Manager Buck Showalter said he exchanged texts with suspended 1B Chris Davis. Serving a 25-game ban following a positive test for an amphetamine, Davis reported to the Orioles complex in Sarasota, Florida, and will play in instructional games. Davis could return late in the postseason.
Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury (hamstring) and Carlos Beltran (elbow) are still not ready to return, and manager Joe Giardi said it would be “pretty tough” for either to play again this season.
Baltimore’s RHP Kevin Gausman (7-7) and New York’s RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-9) are scheduled starters in the series finale.
HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer