It doesn’t make the loss any easier to swallow, but the Yankees don’t have to look too deeply for the reason they lost this series. It wasn’t one play, or one decision or one player who cost them the American League pennant.
“They overall played better,” Derek Jeter said. “They pitched better. They hit better. They overall just out-played us. That’s just the bottom line. They were a lot better than us these six games.”
Look back at the games the Yankees won.
Game 1 was decided by a single inning. The Rangers bullpen flinched and the Yankees took advantage with a rally that seemed to be a good indication of things to come. It was instead, a blip on the radar.
Game 5 was a win to hold off elimination, but even in that game, the Rangers had 13 hits and the Yankees were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
In the four losses, the Yankees scored a total of six runs. All told, the Yankees had two regulars — Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano — who hit better than .270. The Rangers had six regulars who hit better than .300.
“They deserve it,” Lance Berkman said. “They beat us. I don’t feel like we gave it to them. We didn’t kick the ball around. We didn’t play sloppy baseball. They just beat us.”
That’s the reality of this series. The Rangers might not have a better team, but they certainly had a better series. One team in the American League Championship Series played like it belonged in the World Series, and that’s the team that’s going to be playing in the World Series.
“These guys dominated us,” Brian Cashman said.
• As you might expect, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Joe Girardi all said they have not thought about — much less decided — what’s going to happen next season. “We’ll see,” Rivera said. “That, I will tell you guys later on when it happens.”
• Series MVP was obviously Josh Hamilton who hit .350 with four home runs and seven RBI. He was intentionally walked five times, which set an ALCS record.
• The final pitching line is awful, and he took his second loss of the series, but Phil Hughes was actually one pitch away from a pretty good start. Two on and two outs, a 1-0 count to Vladimir Guerrero, Hughes tried to throw a curveball down and away. It wound up in the middle where Guerrero hit a two-run double that broke a 1-run tie. “I tried to make as good of a pitch as I could in that situation,” Hughes said.
• Upset about the decision to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton to bring up Guerrero? “That’s the smart play,” Hughes said. “That’s arguably the MVP of this league. You can’t let a player like that beat you.”
• CC Sabathia was never used. Instead it was Dave Robertson who allowed the back-breaking two-run home run by Nelson Cruz. “I went to a right-handed reliever,” Girardi said. “We were facing right-handers and that’s where I decided to go. I went to David Robertson. You have to remember, CC was coming off a 112-pitch (game). If there was a situation where we would use him against a left-hander, we were going to try to use him in a situation against the left-handers in the bottom of the order if that came up.”
• The one offensive bright spot for the Yankees this series was Robinson Cano: .348 with four home runs and a team-high five RBI.
• Girardi said he was hoping to go to Kerry Wood for the sixth and seven and Mariano Rivera for the eighth and ninth. If that didn’t work out, he still had Sabathia if he needed him.
• Sticking with Hughes to face Guerrero? “Hughesy has had success off Vlad Guerrero and got him out twice (tonight),” Girardi said. “That’s why he stayed there.”
• Every hitter I talked to in the Yankees clubhouse said Colby Lewis did nothing different tonight, he just did everything well. The Yankees were hoping to adjust after seeing him in Game 2. “His adjustments were better,” Jeter said.
• Everyone was ready to give Lewis credit, but at the same time: “We have to be accountable,” Alex Rodriguez said. “We feel like there’s no way that we go and score one run tonight. That’s on us.”
• The last out belonged to Rodriguez. “I had no doubt I was going to get on base,” Rodriguez said. “Then he throws me that dragon of a curveball. I think both me and Lance Berkman, who was behind me, we both flinched.”
• In this stadium, where Rodriguez is booed with so much venom, of course it came down to him. “I was actually pretty excited about that at-bat,” he said. “It’s unbelievable how things come around, and of all people I’m the last guy up there. I’m sure it made it a little bit sweeter for them.”
• It’s easy to forget that a lot of these guys know one another and like one another. “I am happy for guys like Michael Young and Colby Lewis who I played with when they were just kids,” Rodriguez said. Of course, that happiness doesn’t take away the sting. “This is going to hurt for a while,” Rodriguez said. “And it should.”
• Statement from Hal Steinbrenner: “On behalf of the New York Yankees I want to congratulate the Texas Rangers, Chuck Greenberg, Nolan Ryan and their entire ownership, staff and organization on winning their first American League Pennant. They played liked champions and we wish them the best of luck representing the American League in the World Series.”
• Just a quick note: I just booked a flight that leaves in six hours, so I need to hurry back to the hotel. I have quite a bit of audio that I’ll get on the blog tomorrow. Thanks for sticking around, everyone. I really do appreciate it. I’ll have more follow-up on the blog tomorrow and in the coming weeks and months.
Associated Press photos