As the Yankees were attempting another winning rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, loud cheers erupted from the stands.
They were not for any action on the field but rather for the events on the scoreboard that saw the score in Boston go from having two red dots to indicate two outs to a big capital “F” as in final.
The theatrics never happened for the Yankees, though it came close when Alex Rodriguez flied out to the warning track for the second out. Robinson Cano struck out looking to end a 5-4 loss to the Athletics.
Even with Rodriguez’s close call, the Yankees still maintained a one-game lead in the AL East as they head on a seven-game trip through Minnesota and Toronto.
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The Yankees were in position to extend their lead to two games for the first time since Sept. 2. They came back from an early three-run deficit with a four-run fourth that was highlighted by Nick Swisher’s two-run home run, Raul Ibanez’s RBI double and Eduardo Nunez’s run-scoring groundout.
After that, the bats came up empty and Hiroki Kuroda could not protect the lead, allowing RBI singles to Yoenis Cespedes and Cliff Pennington in the fifth and sixth.
The most notable instance was in the fifth when Ichiro reached scoring position. Alex Rodriguez struck out while Swisher and Curtis Granderson followed Robinson Cano’s walk by doing the same.
The other notable instance occurred in the eighth when Russell Martin walked and pinch runner Chris Dickerson advanced on a throwing error by Sean Doolittle. That prompted closer Rafael Soriano to begin warming up, but Nunez struck out and Derek Jeter grounded out.
The sequence unfolded immediately after Andrew Bailey struck out Ryan Flaherty with the bases loaded to close out a 2-1 Red Sox victory over the Orioles. That ensured that for the 22nd straight day the Yankees and Orioles would be separated by one game or fewer.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.