Five more outs -- and it seemed like fewer than that -- and the Yankees would have found themselves on the wrong side of history. As they wobble toward the finish line, however, it's a longer time span that looms over them.
Two weeks. Two weeks until a possible playoff match with the Indians. Two weeks to catch up to Bartolo Colon's comet of a fastball.
Luis Polonia's clean single up the middle with one out in the eighth inning accounted for the Yankees' only safety of the night, as Colon thoroughly dominated the Bombers with his one-hit, 2-0 victory in front of 31,317 at Yankee Stadium, giving the Indians a 3-1 series triumph.
In handing Roger Clemens his first loss since June 9, breaking The Rocket's nine-decision winning streak, Colon (14-8) issued one walk and struck out 13, including the side of Jose Vizcaino, Chuck Knoblauch, and Derek Jeter in the ninth.
Colon raised his career record against the Yanks, including the postseason, to 3-0 with an 0.77 ERA. And if the standings remain the same, Clemens and Colon likely would face off again in Game One of the American League Division Series.
"We had a tough time catching up with him tonight," Joe Torre said. "He was dominant. He maintains velocity as well as any pitcher I've ever seen."
"He gave us no chance to win that game," Polonia said.
Thanks to Polonia's lonely single in the eighth, the Yankees extended their streak of not being no-hit to 6,637 games, the best in baseball. The Orioles' Hoyt Wilhelm last pulled off the feat, silencing the Yankees in Baltimore on Sept. 20, 1958.
Colon -- who threw a no-hitter at Buffalo in 1997 -- carried his no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings, with help from fate and some terrific defensive plays, including a second-inning classic when center fielder Kenny Lofton leaped high at the wall to rob Jorge Posada of a home run.
In the seventh, first baseman Jim Thome, made a diving stop and flipped to Colon covering the bag for the second out.
Colon also benefited, the Yankees felt, from a liberal strike zone courtesy of home plate umpire Tim Tschida. Seven Yanks struck out looking.
He began his night by retiring Knoblauch on a fly out to deep left-center field. Jeter followed by lining a shot off the pitcher's right hip, but it ricocheted to Colon's right, where he picked it up and threw out the shortstop. Colon said later that his hip bothered him all night.