It’s pretty hard to win baseball games — not to mention a playoff series — when your team doesn’t hit. It’s also pretty difficult when your pitching mostly fails you as well. The Yankees came up empty on both sides of the ball throughout the majority of the 2010 American League Championship Series, falling to the Texas Rangers 6-1 and losing the series 4 games to 2. The Rangers advance to their first World Series in franchise history, while the Yankees head into the offseason failing to defend their 2009 crown.
The decisive Game 6 was actually pretty tense through the first four innings, with the teams playing each other to a 1-1 tie. Phil Hughes looked good after a shaky first, but the complete disappearance of the Yankee bats was the primary culprit in this loss. Though Hughes would end up yielding four runs in 4 2/3 innings (and David Robertson would add another two on a Nelson Cruz two-run shot), and pitched slightly better than he did in Game 2, the silence of the Yankee bats spoke volumes, and was the true death knell of the 2010 team.
The Yankees hit .201/.300/.370 on the series, which is just awful — not to mention eerily reminiscent of their even-more-nonexistent performance in the 2001 World Series, a seven-game set in which they batted a pathetic .183/.240/.288(!) collectively — and pitched to a 6.58 ERA. The Yankees also were horrendous with runners in scoring position — another season-long bugaboo — going 8 for 53 (.151), and were outscored by 19 runs in this series, their second-worst run differential they’ve ever had in a postseason series. The Rangers, meanwhile, were absolutely on fire, mashing to the tune of .304/.378/.512 while their pitchers kept the Yankees seriously in check with a sparkling 3.06 ERA.
Colby Lewis in particular was fantastic, pitching eight innings of one-run ball, and and 13 2/3 innings of three-run ball total in this series. I know Josh Hamilton swatted four home runs, but I’m actually kind of appalled that Lewis wasn’t named ALCS MVP, as I don’t believe anyone on the Rangers had a greater impact on winning this series than Lewis, a pitcher I expected the Yankees to beat both times.
In hindsight it turns out I completely overlooked Lewis in my series preview (not to mention Hamilton), and I should have noted that he had one major advantage going into this series, an advantage that has been the Yankees’ Achilles’ heal all season: the fact that they hadn’t faced him this season and only three palyers on the team had ever faced him before. Anyone who follows the Yankees knows that their biggest weaknesses are (a) Rookies they’ve never faced before, (b) Pitchers they’ve never faced before, (c) Pitchers with fastballs that don’t top 90mph, and (d) Cliff Lee. The Rangers possessed two of these four ingredients, and were therefore in much better shape to quiet the Yankee offense than I’d realized.
However, I would’ve expected the Yankee bats to have fared a bit better the second time around against Lewis, but of course he ended up pitching even better than he did in Game 2, holding the anemic Yankee offense to three runs and only six total baserunners.
All in all it was total domination by the Rangers, who not only comprehensively outplayed the Yankees in this series, but looked like World Champs in doing so. Was Texas the better team? They certainly played like a way better team, although I still believe talent-wise the Yankees were superior, and I imagine if this series was played 10,000 times the Yankees would come out on top more often than not.
In addition to the lifeless bats, the series was also lost on some poor decision-making by Joe Girardi — which Ben does a good job of highlighting here — including starting Hughes instead of Andy Pettitte in Game 2, sticking with A.J. Burnett too long in Game 4, ordering an obscene amount of ill-advised intentional walks and not utilizing the team’s best relievers in critical situations, among other gripes. I’m certainly not going to blame the series loss on Girardi; ultimately it’s up to the players to perform, but pretty much every move he made seemed to backfire. Hey, it’s baseball; it happens.
In any event, congratulations to the Texas Rangers on a fine series, and good luck to the team as they try to take home their first-ever World Championship. While I’m disappointed that my team no longer has any baseball games to play, I’d still consider this a wildly successful year — getting two wins away from a World Series appearance is still a major accomplishment, and given the way the team stumbled its way to the finish line in the second half actually makes it even more impressive to me.
Moving forward, we’re very excited for the winter ahead, and Yankeeist will still be giving you the goods each and every day as we keep tabs on the pursuit of Cliff Lee among a host of other important offseason decisions facing the Yankees, so even though there’s no Yankee baseball being played until March, make sure to still check in with us daily during the offseason.
Thank you to each and every one of you who came by the site this year. It’s been a great season, and the best is yet to come.
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