In the sleepy town of Cooperstown, N.Y., less than 200 miles from where the Yankees were once again spitting up all over their pinstripes, their most reliable long-term source of good vibes and better karma was enjoying his moment in the sun. Derek Jeter charmed the mostly pinstriped crowd as he accepted his Hall of Fame plaque, and given his life’s trajectory, you just knew he’d send some old pixie dust to The Bronx.
The script was written.
The Yankees yawned their way through a couple of innings, allowing the Blue Jays to extend their lead to 3-0. Even so, as Brett Gardner awaited Alek Manoah’s 3-and-2 pitch with two outs and two on the fifth, you could sense what was about to happen seconds before it happened. Manoah hit a hard fastball. Gardner quickly removed the bat’s head.
And then it was gone.
This was, of course, part of the plan. Naturally, the last player to share a championship Yankees locker room with Jeter would be the one to deliver a message from the past: relax. Everything is fine. Exhale. Everything is going to be fine.
It was a 3-3 tie. Yankees, this was clearly going to end 10-3.
The Blue Jays won 6-3.
It was as bad a loss as the Yankees have had in this recent run of games. They are no longer in first place in the wild-card standings; the Red Sox have somehow surpassed them. After being all but given last rites two weeks ago, they have invited the Jays back into the race. The streak is now at five games, and the Jays are aiming for an unthinkable four-game sweep on Thursday.
For the time being, Mystique and Aura are no longer alive at Yankee Stadium.
Squatters’ rights have been officially established by fear and loathing.
“We know we have the guys capable,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve just got to get it done.”
He stopped and laughed a sour laugh.
“A little bit of a broken record this week, I understand that.”
This week, his team has disintegrated, following two inexplicable losses to the Orioles last weekend with three one-sided losses to a scorching-hot Blue Jays team that is currently playing in the opposite direction as the Yankees. They’re confidently playing, moving with swagger, seizing every opportunity and closing every door and window.
The Subway Series this weekend is shaping up to be a three-game elimination round-robin held amid solemn pomp and circumstance. Both teams have reached a point in the season where they must win every game. Given similar circumstances ten days ago, there was little doubt who had the better team to make it happen.