It’s so difficult for New York Yankees fans to realize that the Steinbrenners’ team lost to the Detroit Tigers because the Tigers outplayed them.
Fans, egged on by the media, blame Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher and C.C. Sabathia for the end of the Yankees season. Almost no one not in Detroit has given the Tigers the credit they earned.
The Tigers, a gritty, gutsy team split the first two games at the Yankees ball park. The fact that the first game was suspended by rain changed the series.
Baseball’s best pitcher, Justin Verlander, and the Yankees best pitcher, Sabathia, were forced out of the game. Instead of facing each other in the first and fifth games, they started against each other only in Game 3.
The second game, as is often the case in a five game set, was the key. The Tigers got to Freddy Garcia for two runs in the first and for two more in the sixth when they knocked him out of the game.
Max Scherzer held the Yankees scoreless through six innings. A shaky Joaquin Benoit and an even shakier Jose Valverde made the ninth inning Detroit run produced by Brandon Inge and Don Kelly stand up when the Yankees scored twice in the ninth.
Despite the poor weather conditions, Valverde retired Robinson Cano to end the game. It wasn’t Cano’s fault that he didn’t win the game. Valverde won the battle. He deserves the credit. Cano doesn’t deserve the blame.
Brandon Inge, Don Kelly, Billy Martin, Mark Lemke and Billy Hatcher (I am not differentiating playoffs and World Series performances) can’t compare to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Gil Hodges or Jose Canseco with respect to talent, but some major leaguers rise to the occasion.
The Yankees won the fourth game by a big score. They won many games by blow outs during the season, which inflated their statistics.
The Steinbrenners’ Yankees won 97 games, but according to their Pythagorean, they should have won 101. That is ridiculous because the big scores padded their run differential.
In deciding Game 5, journey man Don Kelly and Delmon Young each hit solo home runs in the first inning to put the Yankees into a hole from which they never escaped. Kelly took advantage of the ball park.
Were those home runs A-Rod’s fault? Were either Teixeira or Swisher to blame?
Sabathia gave up the run that won the ALDS for the Tigers. It was his first relief appearance after 421 starts. When Casey Stengel explained his success to “his writers,” he emphasized that he wouldn’t ask a player to do what he couldn’t do.
Max Scherzer was fantastic. Doug Fister, probably the acquisition that made the Tigers a genuine pennant threat, did well. Benoit and Valverde were excellent. Verlander didn’t dominate the way he was supposed to, but the Tigers had enough to barely win. That’s all it takes.
In 2011, it is popular to blame high-priced players, especially Yankees, for their teams’ failures when they have a bad series. That has some validity, but baseball is a team game.
It is impossible to predict a five game series. When the Yankees lose three out of five games during the season, it is quickly forgotten. When a star slumps, there is usually time for recovery. That’s not true in the playoffs.
The Tigers were simply the better team. They won. The Yankees didn’t lose.