Part 2 of 3: The Yankees won a nail-biting 5-game (3-2) ALDS against the Orioles. In the ALCS, the Yankees pulled a Rip Van Wrinkle against the Tigers and were swept 4-0. This posting will revisit both series.
The series against the Orioles had three games decided by one run and one game determined by two runs. Even though game one was a 7-2 victory for the Yanks, it took a 5-run ninth inning to decide it. Sabathia pitched 8.2 innings yielding only two runs. The rally in the ninth was sparked by Martin’s hitting a leadoff home run and Cano producing a two-run double. Game 2 was decided by a two-run single by Chris Davis and a one-run single by Matt Reynolds and the Orioles went on to win 3-2. Pettitte pitched a strong 6.2 innings giving up just two earned runs. In my opinion, game 3 was really the deciding game. The Yankees won 3-2 in 12 innings. Kuroda pitched a strong 8.1 innings giving up only two earned runs. With one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees trailing 2-1, Girardi did the unthinkable pinch hitting for A-Rod with Raul Ibanez who promptly homered to right. The game went into extra innings and in the bottom of the twelfth Ibanez hit a walk-off home run. Game 4 went 13 innings with the Orioles winning 2-1 on back-to-back doubles off of Phelps. Hughes pitched a strong 6.2 innings yielding only a solo home run to McLouth. This brings us to the deciding game 5. Sabathia pitched a complete game masterpiece striking out nine while yielding just one run. The Yankees scored three solo runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings on a single by Ibanez, a double by Suzuki and a home run by Granderson. The final score was 3-1. What was unusual about the Yankee lineup for the deciding game was the absence of A-Rod. The Yankee pitching star for the series was Sabathia with two wins, an ERA of 1.53, striking out 16 in 17.2 innings. The hitting star was Ibanez who in four games went 4 for 9 with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs. Game 3 was the turning point. I believe if the Orioles held on and won game 3 they would have won the series. A-Rod had a horrible series going 2 for 16 with 9 strikeouts. For the series, The Yankees batted .211 and had a pitching ERA of 1.76. The Orioles batted .187 with an ERA of 2.52. Clearly, pitching dominated this series.
Game 1 set the stage for the Tiger series sweep with a 12 innings 6-4 victory. The first 5 innings were scoreless. In the top of the sixth the Tigers scored two runs on singles by Fielder and Young. Going into the bottom of the ninth the Yankees trailed 4-0. Miraculously, the Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run homer by Suzuki followed by a two-run homer by, that man, Ibanez. Could the Yankees pull another rabbit out of the hat? The Tigers said no by scoring two runs in the top of the twelfth off of Phelps. Game over!!! Added to this disappointing loss was the loss of their leader “The Captain” Derek Jeter with a broken ankle. Yes, to me this was the pivotal game. Without their leader, the Yankees scored a total of three runs in the next three games losing all three. Take a look at the anemic Yankee batting performance for this series. Cano was 1 for 18, Granderson was 0 for 11, Chavez was 0 for 8, Martin was 2 for 14, A-Rod was 1 for 9, Teixeira was 3 for 15, and Swisher was 3 for 12. You can call this a team slump. The only bright spot was Suzuki who was 6 for 17. For the 4-game series the Yankees batted .157 with an ERA of 4.14. The Tigers batted .291 with an ERA of 1.38. In fact, the Yankees only scored 6 runs in the four games. Another surprising statistic is in the entire series they scored only one run before the ninth inning. The Tigers embarrassed the Yankees. Part 3 will discuss the Yankee future.