In two games of a five game series the Yankees scored nine and 10 runs. Those should be easy wins. That means they needed to win just one close game out of three other games in the series, but they couldn’t do it.
What happened? Who is to blame? Let’s run down the list of some of the bigger culprits.
Joe Girardi: His pitching changes yesterday were a lightning rod for criticism, but there is no question that Ivan Nova should have been starting that game and Girardi did manage to navigate the bullpen through seven innings and one run.
The big problem with Girardi may have been his hands off approach to the lineup card. He stuck by his lineup and his hitters even when it was obvious that some of them were struggling big time. To not pinch hit for Russell Martin looks especially foolish, especially after his weak at bats early in game five.
Alex Rodriguez: Everybody’s favorite punching bag. I have two thoughts in my head when it comes to him. The first is that one World Series victory does not a career make. My second thought is that I find it very hard to blame him. That was not the pre-2009 version of A-Rod that was the 2011, he’s 36-years-old and coming off of midseason knee surgery. Yes, he absolutely failed, but maybe that is the manager’s fault more than it is his. Drop him down in the lineup, get him some extra rest, maybe even pinch hit for him in a couple of spots.
Mark Teixeira: In 27 playoff games in his Yankees career, Teixeira has hit just .170 with a .578 OPS. It’s going to be a long final four years on his contract if he is going to keep this up. He wanted the $180 million contract, well buddy, there are responsibilities that come with it. He had no injuries or excuses for this one either, just didn’t show up, yet again.
Nick Swisher: His playoff record is practically identical to Teixeira’s. In 28 postseason games with the Yankees he has hit .160 with a .587 OPS. He was pressing so bad, it looked like he was trying to win all five games with 10-run home runs. To me he slightly gets off the hook when compared to Teixeira because of their price tags and spots in the lineup, but only slightly.
CC Sabathia: The Big Man is paid to pitch in big games. However, after allowing a homer in two innings of work in game one, he was ineffective pitching on two days rest in game three and on two days rest in game four. Part of that might be Girardi’s fault, but he is the $23 million ace that the Yankees brought in to help them win the World Series. Like A-Rod, he doesn’t get a free pass after one. If he pitches well at all in this series and it’s off to Texas.
Brian Cashman: The Yankees lost a total of three games by four runs. The Yankees offense is stacked and despite some terrible performances by all of the above they still outscored the Tigers by 11 runs in the series. Perhaps the problem was that Cashman never fixed the starting rotation. Sure, Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon outperformed any reasonable expectations, but everyone their second half fades coming from a mile away and he did nothing to acquire reinforcements.
The bottom line is that most playoff games are won by pitching and the Yankees didn’t have enough. They won two games because of their offense and nothing because of their pitching, that falls on Cashman.