It wasn't supposed to end this way. Everything was set in our favor. A deciding Game 5 in Yankee Stadium after a superb offensive onslaught in Game 4. The Yankees had the momentum, the experience, the crowd, the rested bullpen, the reliable starter. It was here for the taking.
But the Tigers won. Hats off to Detroit. What a great series. Oh baseball, thou tuggeth on my heart strings.
I've got a few things to get off my mind...
I don't blame Alex Rodriguez for the loss last night. Yes, he struck out in the bottom of the 9th on a pitch right down the pipe. A challenge from Jose Valverde that bested him. I honestly thought he was going to come up big when we needed him most. ARod didn't. Neither did Derek Jeter who tried to win the game with one swing in the 8th instead of poking a hit to bring up Curtis Granderson with 2 runners on base and Joaqim Benoit visibly nervous. Brett Gardner, who has been excellent this series, deserves his share of the blame for popping out with the bases loaded. Tex, Swish and Russell Martin all came up with runners in scoring position and failed to capitalize. Robbie Cano hammered a home run to get the Yankees on the board, but we needed him to come through a 2nd time in the 9th but he bit on Valverde's 1st pitch which jammed him and broke his bat. I blame everyone.
I think Rodriguez should have made a go for home instead of holding at 3rd. Oh the throw would have probably beaten him to the plate, but what if it wasn't accurate? What if it was bobbled at the plate? The Yankees played it conservatively, as they generally do, and again, they did not capitalize. Had ARod ignored the stop sign and got thrown out at home, we would have tarred and feathered him just the same. It's a tough call either way, especially in a close game and especially given the Yankee offensive potential.
It just wasn't in the cards for us. That's baseball. I loved seeing the Tigers pitchers sweat when runners were on base and the New York crowd was deafening. I have never seen major league pitchers look so human before. They reached back and made the pitches too. It was hard not to be impressed by that. It's no secret that good pitching beats good hitting. The Yankees were victims of that last night. Detroit made the pitches when they needed them most, and the Yankee hitters just couldn't overcome it. We've watched them do it countless times year in and year out so we expected it to happen again. I'll always have those high expectations too. It hurts to have the crowd behind you and the pitcher nervous and still miss opportunities like that.
Would I have liked to see Girardi give Jesus Montero a shot late in the game for Russell Martin in a one run game? Yes! But come on now, guys that would have been a huge gamble on Girardi's part and he has just doesn't go for those types of ballsy moves. I don't blame him for that. As excited as I am about Montero's future, PHing him would have been a reach rather than a run.
When it comes down to it, the Yankees were on borrowed time this season. In April, if you were confident in our starting rotation (having added Bartolo Colon and Freedy Garcia to the mix) pitching this team deep into the post-season, you were lying. No one thought Ivan Nova would make the strides that he did and no one saw Colon and Garcia's resurgence coming. A ton of stars were aligned for the Yankees this season. No one will ever admit that we overachieved because $200 Million payrolls are expected to win titles. But really, considering where we started and where we ended the regular season, the Yankees surprised a lot of folks. Yeah, I feel weird making that point too, but I believe it. It doesn't mean that I didn't expect us to win either. Oh, but I did. I expected it to be Yankees and Red Sox in the AL with the Yankees as underdogs and whupping those cahks.
So while I am incredibly disappointed that we lost Game 5 last night, I can't be entirely depressed. Baseball is agonizing. Every game of this series was exciting. The Yankees were never out of it until the very last strike and the very last out. We had plenty of chances. I thought our own storybook season was going to continue.