ALDS Game Five: Tigers 3, Yankees 2

Nova looked shaky during the first two innings of the game, and Girardi sent Phil Hughes out to start the third.  Later in the game he said it was because Nova had “tightened up.”  Meanwhile, the Yankees struggled to find their offense against Doug Fister.  In the bottom of the third, Brett Gardner lined a single to center, giving the Yankees some life.  Curtis Granderson worked a walk and Robinson Cano battled through a long at bat, fouling off four pitches before flying out to center to end the inning.

Hughes got Martinez to pop out to start the fourth, but gave up a single to Magglio Ordonez.  Girardi once again went to the bullpen, calling on Boone Logan who promptly gave up a single to Alex Avila, who had been 0-12.  Logan came back to get Jhonny Peralta to fly out and struck out Ramon Santiago to end the inning with the Tigers still holding a 2-0 lead.

New York put together a rally in the bottom of the fourth, as Alex Rodriguez worked a leadoff walk.  Mark Teixiera flew out to left, but Swisher followed with a single.  Jorge Posada followed with a single as well, loading the bases with just one out.  Russell Martin hit an infield fly and Brett Gardner had a 3-1 count before fouling off a couple pitches and then flying out to third, ending the inning with the bases juiced.

All the talk about CC Sabathia’s availability on Thursday was not for nothing, as he jogged in from the bullpen to start the top of the fifth.  He gave up a double to Jackson to start the inning, but turned around and struck out Kelly and Young.  Cabrera was intentionally walked and Martinez knocked the first pitch he saw into center for a RBI single.  Sabathia turned around and struck out Ordonez, but Detroit was up 3-0.

The Yankees got the run back in the bottom of the inning.  With two outs, Robinson Cano drove a solo homer out to right, but that was the only damage they could manage.  The Bombers put together another rally in the bottom of the seventh.  With one out, Jeter legged out an infield single and Joaquin Benoit came in to replace Max Scherzer.  Granderson followed by singling a liner to right and Cano dribbled a ball into no man’s land on the infield to load the bases.  Rodriguez struck out, but Teixeira worked a walk, pushing another run across the plate.  Nick Swisher struck out, as the Yankees left the bases loaded for the second time.  Still, they had cut the Tigers’ lead to 3-2.

New York’s pitching combination of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera effectively shut down the Tigers through the latter half of the game.  Unfortunately, their offense continued to struggle.  Gardner singled with two outs in the eighth and Jeter got a hold of a pitch and sent it to deep right field, where it stayed just inside the park to be caught by Don Kelly.  Granderson and Cano each flew out in the bottom of the ninth, and Rodriguez struck out, as the Yankees season ended with a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.

A Few Postgame Quotes:

“We didn’t like the way the ball was coming out of his hand and we thought it was directly related to [the injury]. You know, he said he didn’t feel it in the first…I don’t know.” Joe Girardi on Ivan Nova

“These guys have pitched all year long – Detroit…It was maybe one hit, one sac fly that was the game.  They made their pitches when they had to.  Our guys played hard, I can’t ask for anything more.” Joe Girardi on Detroit pitching and Yankees lack of hitting.

“I mean, this guy, when you look at what he did in this series – he was awesome.  You know, he’s had a tremendous career and I don’t know what is going to happen, but you talk about being proud of players and you look at what he’s been through this year…the heart that he showed in this series, that’s why Jorgie’s been a great player.” Joe Girardi on Posada

“I don’t think it was a hard game to manage, I think it’s a hard game to swallow.” Joe Girardi on managing the game losing Nova so early.

Bronx Cheers:
Russell Martin: Martin went 0-4 with two strikeouts and four runners left on base.

Alex Rodriguez: I put this kind of begrudgingly, as it sounds like he got a lot of these at the stadium last night and I don’t think it is deserved.  Yes, A-Rod did not hit well this series, but as has been said, we all know he’s playing with a few injuries and he still managed to contribute defensively and even with a little offense.  That said, he went 0-4 with three strikeouts and three runners left on base Thursday.

RISP: The Yankees were 2-9 with runners in scoring position and left eleven runners on base.  They ended two
innings with the bases loaded, only getting one run from those situations.

Curtain Calls:
Jorge Posada: After a tough season for a great Yankee, Posada came up big for New York in the postseason.  He went 2-4 in Game 5, but hit .429 over the five games.  He legged out a tough grounder in his last at bat, and despite probably being the slowest (non-pitcher) player on the team he almost beat out the throw.

Robinson Cano: Cano went 2-5 with a run scored and an RBI on a solo homer.

Brett Gardner: Gardner tried his best to get the Yankees’ offense going, but it wasn’t enough.  He was 2-4 with a strikeout and three runners left on base.

Bullpen: The Yankees relied on their bullpen for seven innings and they delivered.  Hughes came in after Nova was pulled and pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings, giving up a pair of hits and collecting a pair of Ks.  Boone Logan pitched .2 innings, giving up just one hit.  CC Sabathia made his first career relief appearance, and struggled a bit.  He went 1.1 and gave up a run on a pair of hits and a pair of walks.  He also struck out four.  Rafael Soriano, who was not what the Yankees expected this regular season, was great in the postseason.  He went 1.2 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball.  David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each pitched 1-2-3 innings as well.  The bullpen combined for ten strikeouts and just the two walks by CC.  They gave the offense every chance to win the game.

In The On Deck Circle:


About Tamar Chalker

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help - I can pay you in maple syrup.

10 thoughts on “ALDS Game Five: Tigers 3, Yankees 2

  1. Thanks for your work all season. I was very glad you came back this year (when you got your new job, I was afraid of a Cliff Lee-esque opt-out.) Here's hoping you can make it back next year.

    That said, I still would like to know how the Yankees can load the bases, twice, once with one out, yet only WALK in one run. All the folks talking about the light-hitting Mariners need to look in their own back yard. Shoot – I think no one was more surprised than Benoit to get out of the seventh with the lead intact.

    OTOH, since AJ had to win Game 4 to get us here, I guess we were playing with house money anyway.

    • Thanks Jay!

      The Yankees definitely had their chances last night, which makes it all the more frustrating. I really thought I'd be writing more recaps next week.

      • To look on the bright side – I can now get a life. This looks to be a year for the books in the leaf-color department; not the same as following the team to the WS, but its what's left this year.

        Hope New England is as good for you. Thanks again.

  2. Tough job writing this one I'm sure, Tamar. Excellent job as always. In addition to your minor league coverage, I hope there's some major league stuff for you to write about in the off-season.

  3. Thanks! It is always my least favorite day when I write the final recap – even when they win it all i am still a little sad the season has ended. I have a few posts in the works that may appear sooner rather than later now, but I am glad you've enjoyed my recaps!

  4. Sabathia is the goat of this series. No team can win with this kind of performance from their ace. He clearly wore down towards the end of the season, probably because he’s at least 50 pounds overweight. Anyone that fat isn’t hungry enough to win.

    I don’t understand Girardi’s bullpen management. Robertson and Rivera are arguably the best players on the team, and they pitched a combined total of 3 1/3 innings all series. They should have been in in game 2, and pitched more in game 5, so fat boy didn’t have to give up the winning run. They were well rested at the end of the season. They can and should pitch more than one inning in postseason games, especially when it only takes them a maximum of 10 pitches to get through an inning.

    Rodriguez played solid defense and, until game 5, had good at bats and productive outs. Still, the Yankees need more from him if they are going to win.

    Russell Martin was awful offensively, except for the slide in game 4. Also, I don’t know why everyone keeps saying he’s a great defensive catcher. I’ve never seen so many foul tips and strike 3’s dropped. He deserves some blame for the terrible pitch calls to Delmon Young. Yes, he blocks balls in the dirt. So does every other ML catcher. He’s slightly better than average defensively, at best.

    Also, third base coach should have let A-Rod score. He was halfway home when held up and barely got back to third. I could understand it if anyone except the Yankees’ worst hitter–Russell hope for a walk Martin–were the next at bat. It was a bad move.

    Texiera and Swisher need to hit better but both had down years and I wasn’t really surprised, nor do I think it was the most important factor at work here.

    Posada, Gardner, and, yes, Burnett were a pleasure to watch.

    If Sabathia loses 80 pounds and Burnett has finally figured things out (I realize both of these are extremely unlikely), and Nova continues to improve, that will be a solid core of the rotation next year (though no one would object to improving it further). If Montero (and even Cano) can improve their plate discipline, the offense will be even better. A-Rod, Texiera, Swisher, and to some extent Jeter, need to return closer to career form, and next year could be a great year. Otherwise, time to rebuild.

  5. sigh….

    just a couple of quick facts….

    arod was just rounding third when he was held up, with the ball in jackson's glove.

    also, CC was fat in 2009. and 2008. etc, etc

  6. Look, I totally agree with the point that in baseball performance often has nothing to do with physical appearance. That said, I don’t think morbid obesity in a $20mm/yr professional athlete is a cause for congratulations, and it is likely to affect him more as he ages.

    Now, I do not know whether his poor late performance has anything to do with fatigue, or if pitcher fatigue has anything to do with being out of shape. But these do not seem wholly unreasonable hypotheses. CC is not the same pitcher he was in 2008 and 2009, and he hasn’t gotten any smaller. He used to thrive late in the season and on short rest. Not anymore, apparently. The bottom line is, for whatever reason, he is not performing.

    Fact: CC gave up more runs to the Tiger hitters in his full start than Garcia and Burnett, and Nova in the latter’s “relief start.” He could not throw one (1.1) inning of scoreless relief and without walking two batters. Maybe it’s bad luck–he had some questionable calls against him and a broken bat hit–but it’s just not good enough.

    The Yankees will presumably have to rely on CC for the next few years. While I’m sure he’ll be able to shut out the Twins a few times, I frankly don’t have much confidence that he can be a dominant postseason pitcher (Texas hit him pretty well last year, too).

    Perhaps, as you seem to suggest, he needs to get fatter. If that helps, great. But whatever it is, I think the Yankees will need stronger performance from their number one starter.