© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
10/09/07 3:30 AM ET
Flat offense costs Yankees in ALDS
Postseason loss to Indians a tale of missed opportunity
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Yankees' strength proved to be their undoing in a disheartening defeat at the hands of the Indians. The calendar moved to October, and suddenly New York's potent bats went limp in the American League Division Series.
The final out on Monday night, igniting an on-field celebration by the visiting Tribe, painted the larger picture of New York's entire series. Jorge Posada flailed feebly as an offering from Cleveland's Joe Borowski disappeared into the glove of catcher Kelly Shoppach for a game-ending strikeout.
With that, Cleveland's players burst from their dugout and joined as one in a bouncing mob on the infield at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees made their way back up the tunnel and into their clubhouse, where silence consumed a room filled with reminders of past playoff glory.
"I will tell you one thing about this team," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "We left our hearts and souls out there and we can't look in the mirror and say we left anything behind. We left it all out there and I think the city of New York, for that, should be proud."
New York's showing in the batter's box was hardly something to find pride in, though. The Yankees found opportunity after opportunity, but struggled to come through when it mattered most. The disappearing act by the Yankees' offense was also especially glaring in light of the performance of the Indians.
During the four Division Series contests, which ended with a 6-4 clincher for Cleveland, the Indians posted a .429 average and plated 13 runs with runners in scoring position and two outs. In the same situation, the Yankees came up with just one hit in 11 tries, and they hit just .214 with runners in scoring position over the four games.
"We just haven't been able to get the one hit that seemed to get us over the hump," said Yankees manager Joe Torre, whose future at the helm is now in question. "We just haven't been able to manufacture like we did most of the year. But again, you have to understand, when you get to the postseason, things happen."
True, but the statistical drop-off was far too drastic to overcome. During the regular season, the Yankees led the Majors with a .290 team average and scored the most runs (740) with runners in scoring position. With RISP and two outs, New York ranked third in baseball by hitting at a .272 clip. The offense carried the Yankees to the playoffs for the 13th straight season.
In the ALDS, the Yankees posted a .228 average and stranded 24 runners. In the three losses, six of New York's eight runs came via solo homers, including one each for Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu and Rodriguez on Monday. Abreu, Rodriguez, Posada, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui combined to hit .211 with just three RBIs in the series.
"If we look back at the series, there were a lot of things that could've gone our way and just didn't," said Posada, who went 2-for-14 in the first round against the Indians. "They made the plays and made the pitches. We just did not execute.
"The team we have in here, I still think we have a better team. That's the way it is. They just pitched better and they hit in the clutch better. They did a lot of things well. We just didn't pitch or hit or do the things that make us win."
Heading into the finale, the Yankees appeared to have an edge, considering the Indians were sending right-hander Paul Byrd to the mound. That thought was swiftly erased after Byrd surprised New York by lasting five-plus innings, surrendering two runs, despite allowing eight hits along the way.
"Give Byrd credit," Rodriguez said. "He made good pitches, not only against me, but against our whole lineup. He really threw the ball magical tonight. We thought we had a good matchup, and we thought we had a good approach, but obviously, he got the better end of us."
The offense's woes are one reason Rodriguez said he hopes Torre doesn't get hit with any blame for New York's dismal showing. New York won't have the chance to capture its first World Series crown since 2000, but Rodriguez said the fault lies solely with the players.
"It's on us," Rodriguez said. "They beat us on the field -- not the coaches. We've got the most prepared coaching staff and the best manager in the game. It's not the manager -- it's on us. You're looking at the problem -- one of 25. So, we're more responsible than anyone else."