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.
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.
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: