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fans stunned by strike out that ends season

Photos by Gary Quintal

By Rich Mancuso

In the end Yankees manager Joe Girardi did his best. The team did not, in particular the heart of his lineup, Alex Rodriquez and Mark Teixeira combined 5-for-36 in the five game American League Division Series loss to the Detroit Tigers that concluded in the Bronx.

And for the Yankees, now it is time to go home and decisions for GM Brian Cashman to evaluate what has to be done. Because this Yankees team, though overcoming adversity with pitching and injuries, did not have enough to culminate in championship Number 28 and without a championship in October the Yankees season is not an accomplishment.

“I think there was a lot of questions as we exited spring training and I think over time those questions get answered with real legitimate contributors,” said a disappointed Cashman when the Yankees season abruptly ended. “This team got stronger and mentally tougher along the way and showed themselves as a formidable opponent for a world championship.”

But it was not enough for a world championship. Girardai did not expect this to be the outcome. You could see the disappointment as he addressed the media for a final time. It was not the pitching or his moves out of the bullpen after Ivan Nova had to be lifted early. It was the offense, a $200 million team built to win and produce runs as they did during the season which led the American League in wins.

“Our guys played hard,” commented Girardi.

They did. Robinson Cano, with 9 runs batted in during the series, was not responsible for a Yankees team that left 40 men on base in the five games. Neither was Brett Gardner, or the veteran Jorge Posada who may have played his last game in Yankees pinstripes with five championship rings to his resume. CC Sabathia, who is probably going to opt out of a contract, was not the overpowering starter. And he did not play a role in a game one win that Nova finished because of the rain out last Friday evening.

“Tonight, if we were one at bat better we might win the game,” said Teixeira.

“This one especially stings,” said Rodriguez. He made the final out of 2011, striking out, as he did so much this season. The Yankees have six more years of Rodriguez, a contract that appears to be money going down the drain. Rodriguez is hurting from knee and other ailments, though he will never admit to this being an impact as to why his numbers were not similar to the at bats he had in the last championship of 2009.

In the meantime, Girardi managed like it was the last game. He utilized every member of the pen, with the exception of Mariano Rivera, the other member of that Core Four who threw eight pitches in the five games, fewest in his 32 post season games. “That’s baseball,” said Rivera, as he is accustomed to saying in a quiet Yankees clubhouse. 

Rivera will return next season. So will Curtis Granderson who had an MVP type season. Nick Swisher may be the other man out for 2012, with an option that may not be picked up. So Cashman does have work to do. And it means possibly looking for an ace on the mound, if Sabathia does not decide to stay. And even if he does like New York, Sabathia will be looking for more money and another team, maybe the Angels who can pay him.

Said Girardi, “Obviously this is a terrible day for us, but some days you just get beat.”

It is an aging roster and Girardi did his best. And for the second time since 2007, in the old stadium and the new one, the Tigers Miguel Cabrera was on the field in the Bronx celebrating as his team eliminated the Yankees. The last time was 2007, when as a member of the Marlins’, Cabrera won a World Series in a deciding game.

Yes, this will be an interesting off season for Cashman and the Yankees. In the old days, the late George Steinbrenner would be speaking. Speculation about managerial and coaching changes would be talked about the next day. But not this time, because this was not the fault of Girardi or the coaching staff.

It is a Yankees roster that needs to be evaluated, especially Rodriguez and his .118 average in the series that got booed when he made the final out.  

giardi did his best,

but not the yanks