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Didi Gregorius injury overshadows Yankees' wild-card battle

By
Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
New York Yankees batter Didi Gregorius hits a double in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox on June 29, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York Yankees batter Didi Gregorius hits a double in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox on June 29, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

The New York Yankees suffered a double loss on Sunday.

The Yankees, heading for the American League wild card and fighting to maintain home-field advantage for that game against the Oakland A's, failed to finish off a sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, blowing a 3-0 lead and losing, 6-3.

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Then, after the game, New York manager Aaron Boone revealed Didi Gregorius suffered torn cartilage in his right wrist diving into home with the run that clinched the Yankees' return to the postseason.

The shortstop received a cortisone injection and reported improvement after Sunday's game.

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"Didi's a great player and obviously I think everyone in this room understands how important he is to our team," Boone said after the game. "Kind of an anchor for us defensively in the infield, and obviously what he brings from the left side of the plate. So, we'll cross that bridge when we get there, but hopefully we get some good news here in a few days."

The most likely move for the Yankees, who finished their home schedule Sunday and open a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night in St. Petersburg, would be to shift Gleyber Torres back to second base and play Neil Walker at second with Gregorius out.

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Gregorius is batting .268, with a career-high 27 homers, 86 RBIs and 10 stolen bases this season.

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"Well it feels a little bit better now," he said. "I know it happened yesterday during the game. I slid into home plate, my right hand got stuck. We were celebrating everything was fine. I went home, fine. I woke up this morning, it wasn't feeling good. I came up here and we did an MRI. It showed I had a small tear in the wrist."

The Yankees maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over the Oakland A's for home field in the wild card as the A's lost to the Minnesota Twins in Oakland.

The loss kept champagne on ice for the A's, and allows the Rays to live another day in their late-season chase for the second wild card -- the Oakland magic number remaining at 1.

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Blake Snell won his 21st game of the season and moved a step closer to the Rays' second Cy Young Award Sunday in Toronto.

While the Yankees have not named a starter for Monday, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said he will start "opener" Diego Castillo, with rookie Ryan Yarbrough, a 15-game winner, getting the bulk of the innings.

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Monday is Luis Severino's regular day but no starter had been announced for the visitors, who missed a chance to go a season-high 37 games over .500 Sunday.

Snell joined David Price as the Rays' only 20-game winners and passed Price for most wins in a season. His ERA is down to 1.90 and he struck out 11 in 6 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday.

"I think he's pretty much cemented his case that he belongs not just in the (Cy Young) conversation, but right at the top of the list," Cash said.

Said teammate Kevin Kiermaier: "If today wasn't a final nod, then I don't know what is. The guy is just absolutely dominant."

The Rays lead the season series with the Yankees 8-7, but have gone 5-1 against New York at the Trop.

Willie Adames missed Sunday's game for Tampa Bay because of illness and Kiermaier left the game after running into the wall in the eighth inning -- and is considered day-to-day.

For the Yankees, Aaron Hicks, who had the winning hit Saturday, fouled a ball off his ankle before getting the hit and was rested Sunday.

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The Yankees have three possibilities to start the wild-card game and will spend this week both trying to nail down the home field and getting things in line.

"We want to be at home," said Boone.

The Yankees and A's split six games this season, but the Yankees currently hold the tiebreaker for home field because of their divisional record (39-30/35-35).

Severino is 7-2 with a 3.06 ERA lifetime against the Rays, 2-1 with a 3.43 in St. Petersburg. He is 2-1 against Tampa Bay this season but was strafed by the Rays in July.

Mallex Smith is 3-for-10 (.300) against Severino, but both Jesus Sucre and Joey Wendle are 1-for-9 (.111).

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