NEW YORK — Perhaps the only thing that prevented the Yankees from getting eliminated in the AL East race Tuesday night was the wet weather down in Baltimore.
Michael Pineda didn’t do much to help.
The right-hander was hit hard at the start, and New York’s playoff push was delayed once again by its longtime rival when the Boston Red Sox got two homers and five RBIs from rookie catcher Blake Swihart in a 10-4 victory.
"We just need to take a deep breath and come back and win a game tomorrow," said Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who struck out twice and grounded into a double play while going 0 for 4.
Rick Porcello (9-14) recovered neatly from a rocky first inning, Mookie Betts added a solo home run and the Red Sox won their season-best fifth straight game to pass the Orioles for third place.
"There’s not alarm. Let’s make it clear: That team is playing really good baseball. That’s a different team than we saw all spring and summer, so give those guys credit. They’re playing hard," Rodriguez said.
"This is their playoff and they want to make an impact and we would be the same way playing against them," he added.
New York is running second in the division and was spared the possibility of the Blue Jays clinching the crown when they were rained out in Baltimore. Toronto will play a doubleheader Wednesday against the Orioles and needs only one win or another Yankees loss to wrap up its first AL East title in 22 years.
Pineda (12-9) and the Yankees began the day looking to lock up at least a wild card, but that chance was washed away when Minnesota was rained out in Cleveland. New York needs two wins in its final five games — or some help — to reach the post-season for the first time since 2012.
Pineda was 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his previous five outings and had pitched very well against Boston since joining the Yankees. But he gave up hits to three of his first four batters as the Red Sox scored six runs in the first inning for the first time at Yankee Stadium.
"It just looked like his stuff was up and was flat," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "They jumped all over him."
Brock Holt hustled for an RBI double and Swihart capped the outburst with a three-run homer to the short porch in right field. Pineda bent over at the waist and shook his head, just moments before Chris Martin started to get loose in the bullpen.
New York responded with four runs off Porcello in the bottom half, including an RBI double by Carlos Beltran and a two-run homer by Dustin Ackley. But the right-hander settled in from there and did not allow any more damage, throwing 118 pitches in eight innings.
"I think honestly that was one of my best starts all year," Porcello said, adding he got a helpful mound visit from pitching coach Carl Willis after Ackley’s homer. "Sometimes you need a kick in the butt."
Jacoby Ellsbury made a bid for a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fourth but the ball was caught at the right-field fence.
IF AT FIRST
With the Yankees looking for more offence against left-handed pitching, backup catcher John Ryan Murphy began taking early grounders at first base. He borrowed a mitt from another reserve catcher, Austin Romine, and said he felt pretty comfortable at an unfamiliar spot. "It’s just an adjustment," Murphy said. "The more reps, the easier it becomes."
The last time the Red Sox scored six or more runs in the first inning against the Yankees was an eight-run barrage at Fenway Park on Sept. 26, 1989.
Red Sox: OF Rusney Castillo (right quadriceps) was held out again as a precaution even though he was medically cleared to play. "Just need one more day," interim manager Torey Lovullo said. "He’s eager to play." … C Ryan Hanigan (right hand) was available in an emergency, Lovullo said.
Yankees: Stephen Drew went for a battery of tests and the team is preparing as if he will miss the remainder of the season, Girardi said. Drew hasn’t started in two weeks, with dizziness one of his symptoms, and thinks he probably has a concussion. "They’re still working on that," Drew said. The second baseman was hit in the face by a ball that deflected off his glove a few weeks ago. "We haven’t seen really any improvement," Girardi said. "I’m not sure what’s going to make it better." Ackley started at second base again.
Red Sox: LHP Wade Miley (11-11, 4.39 ERA) is 0-2 with a 5.60 ERA in three starts against New York this season.
Yankees: Weather permitting, RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.38) gets his tuneup Wednesday night for a likely start in a potential wild-card game next Tuesday. Tanaka’s previous turn in the rotation was skipped because of a strained right hamstring. "We’ll have to see what the conditions are, but our plans are to start him," Girardi said. "I think we need to get him out there. My thought is if the conditions are horrible, they’re not going to make us go out there."