REM, of course...
Tonight is a tough night for me. Sadly, the New York Yankees finished their season during the ALDS, which is a series or two short from the expectations of Yankees fans. (Sidebar: luckily, I taped Game 4 (a Yankee victory) for when Jacob is demanding that we watch baseball. He loves watching baseball so much, I can't break his heart to tell him that baseball season ever ends.) What happened tonight was a microcosm of the entire ALDS: the heart of the order simply did not produce much fruit.
Alex Rodriguez is supposed to protect Robinson Cano, but he put up numbers that were an atrocity- even for A-Rod. He went 0-4, with 3 Ks tonight, leaving him with a paltry .111 AVG (2 for 18), 3 RBI with 6 Ks for the series. Hardly the number you expect for a man with the highest salary in baseball. The numbers don't do his performance any justice. He did not look comfortable at the plate for most of the series. He simply looked confused did not have any confidence swinging the bat. There were instances where Tigers pitching made him look downright foolish. Mark Teixiera and Nick Swisher didn't offer much more for the Yankees either. Teixiera .166/1 RBI/5 Ks and Swisher .211/2 RBI and 5 Ks for the series. These 3 men left enough men on base to make the Weather Girls blush (queue the song, "It's Raining Men?") The heart of a lineup cannot perform like this if you expect to progress in the postseason.
CC Sabathia did not pitch well either. His Game 3 performance was less than spectacular, and he also gave up a run in relief tonight. Considering that he is not used to coming out of the bullpen, he kept it close enough for one of the Yankee hitters to pick him up tonight.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson both had a stellar postseason. Cano was amazing at the plate hitting .318 with 9 RBI while looking smooth as silk in picking it in the field defensively. Granderson produced offensively as well, but his defense proved to be the best of any player in the series. He stretched out to make an inning-ending catch that saved 3 runs in the 1st inning of Game 4 and another amazing diving catch to end the a later inning and saved 2 more runs. Without his leather in Game 4, A-Rod would not have had a chance to kill the Yankees in Game 5.
The brightest spot for the Yankees in this series must be the emergence of Brett Gardner. Gardner (in the 9th spot) had a .428 AVG and accounted for 8 runs (5 RBI and 3 runs scored). When he is on first, it isn't long until he ends up stealing 2nd and has his eyes on 3rd. Gardner is looking like the player I wanted him to become- a speed demon that gives the Yankees an opportunity to manufacture runs instead of simply relying on the long ball.
Finally, I do have an issue with Joe Girardi's decision-making tonight: not one pinch-hitter the entire evening. Russell Martin did not have great ABs tonight, why not throw Jesus Montero a bone? Girardi also had Andruw Jones on the pine who could have taken swings for Swisher. As poorly as A-Rod was swinging the bat tonight (much less the entire series), was there an opportunity to pinch-hit for him? ThereI realize that the NY sports writers would have likely had a field day with it, but I would have like to seen Eric Chavez with an opportunity at the plate. What's the worst that could happen: Chavez to make the final out of the season instead of A-Rod? That would have made it easier for A-Rod over the next few days, Instead, the season ended the same way it did last year: with A-Rod striking out swinging and a bunch of question marks heading into the offseason.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has a lot of work to do this offseason. The Yankees will likely lose Jorge Posada, and they will be looking for starting pitching once again. Who really thinks that Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia will have a repeat of this season's success nest year? Finally, CC Sabathia is likely to opt-out of his contract with the Yankees next year. That will be a huge blow to the AL East Champion Yankees' chances of repeating and progressing further in the postseason if he is not re-signed. It figures to be a tumultuous time in New York over the next few days as the ire of fans turns to the anticipation of the Hot Stove of MLB Free Agency.