McAdam at the ALCS: Winter comes early for eliminated Yanks

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McAdam at the ALCS: Winter comes early for eliminated Yanks

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Brian Cashman stood in the hallway, just off the main visitor's clubhouse, and twice, maybe three times, uttered words he wasn't supposed to utter.

"The winter is upon us,'' said the New York Yankees general manager.

Winter is not supposed to happen to the Yankees on Oct. 22. When they reach the postseason, as they almost always do, winter is supposed to be forestalled, put on hold until the champagne flows and the parade route is planned.

Anything less and they've come up short.

"This is tough, really,'' said Jorge Posada, head bowed after the Texas Rangers had bludgeoned the Yankees 6-1 to take the American League pennant away from the defending champs. "You get this far, you advance to this point . . . ''

The Yankees went down without much of a fight under the Friday Night Lights in Texas. The final out came with the bat sitting on Alex Rodriguez's shoulder, which was particularly sweet for fans of the Texas Rangers.

Too many of the big bats, Rodriguez included, were quieted by the Texas pitching staff. Were it not for the heroics of Josh Hamilton (four homers in the series and three intentional walks from Joe Girardi in Game Six), the relatively anonymous Colby Lewis would have been the logical choice for the ALCS MVP.

But it wasn't just the bats which failed the defending world champions.

"They beat us,'' said Joe Girardi. "They outhit us, outpitched us, outplayed us and they beat us.''

Indeed, this was no accident, no mirage. The Rangers outscored the Yankees by a margin of exactly 2-1 (3819). They hit .301 while the Yankees hit a mere .201. And where it counted most, the Rangers compiled a collective ERA of 3.06, while the Yankees were rocked for a staff 6.58 ERA over the six games.

A year ago, Girardi cut some corners and managed to win a World Series title with three starting pitchers. Whenever possible, he went to CC Sabathia on short rest. But that wasn't an option this October. Sabathia couldn't get through the fifth inning in Game One and was hardly dominant in scattering 11 hits through six innings and 112 pitches Wednesday in Game Five.

Other than the terrific outing by Andy Pettitte in Game Three -- in a losing cause, ultimately -- the Yankees didn't get much from their rotation this series. Or, for that matter, the bullpen. After the New York relievers held the Rangers in place when Sabathia stumbled in Game One, the bullpen kept allowing Texas to tack on runs late in the game.

Someone was cataloging the Yankees' problems at the plate, noting that Rodriguez had two extra-base hits in the series, that the Yankees had managed just three hits in their elimination game, but Posada cut the questioner off.

"It's about pitching,'' said Posada. "It's about pitching here. Let's not talk about how we didn't hit. I can tell you that you win series with pitching and we didn't do it.''

Not by a longshot. Phil Hughes was rocked in both of his outings, and when the Yankees finally got around to giving A.J. Burnett the ball, having put it off for as long as they could, they got exactly what they feared.

It figures to be an intriguing offseason for the Yankees. Three of the so-called Core Four are eligible for free agency: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. Even Girardi is without a contract.

Pettitte sounded very much like a man leaning toward retirement. Cashman vowed that Rivera and Jeter, Yankee legacies, would be re-signed, and Girardi, too.

But the rotation is thin and the consequences of the club's inability to cement a deal for Cliff Lee back in July seem to grow larger by the day. Lee is now four wins away from a championship, and the feeling around the Rangers is, the more success he experiences, the tougher it will be to walk away. It doesn't hurt that the Rangers are about to reap the benefits of a 3 billion TV deal which might allow them a chance to beat the Yankees again next month, this time at the bargaining table.

Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood, two deadline rentals, are likely moving on, their stays short and, in the end, unsatisfying. There will be new imports, some obtained by trade, some via free agency, where the Yankees exercise their muscle.

But those are issues for the future. For now, there was just the bitter sting of defeat and the realization that, on a warm night in north Texas, winter was upon the Yankees much sooner than they anticipated.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox circle wagon around Dustin Pedroia's words in weird fashion

Red Sox circle wagon around Dustin Pedroia's words in weird fashion

A rained-out Tuesday was pretty action packed, and a little head-scratching.

The Red Sox circled the wagons well, arriving at a unified message about the Dustin Pedroia and Manny Machado situation: this is behind us, and we’re all good. But it was a weird string of events that brought the Sox to that bottom line.

Happy Hanley Ramirez decided he was going to be Matt Barnes’ public relations representative, running bubbly interference when reporters approached Barnes in the clubhouse.

Ramirez then said there was no team meeting to discuss the fallout from that pitch Barnes threw too close to Machado’s head.

Interesting.

At first, Sox manager John Farrell said nothing about the fallout. He then later referred to a hypothetical meeting that took place.

But it wasn't hypothetical. Diplomatic Dustin acknowledged the discussion that touched on his words to Machado: “It’s not me, it’s them.”

Defiant David Price, meanwhile, was off tweeting something passive aggressive about another matter entirely.

But whether or not you believe the Sox, Tuesday’s rain-out scene was simply weird. A strange mishmash of approaches and attitudes.

We’ll take it chronologically, and begin our day with a tweet from Price.

1. Perhaps someone’s story or commentary recently irked Price. Or maybe he was just in a bad mood. 

Why else would Price announce that he's holding his media session about Monday’s bullpen session on Twitter, and that he won't answer no questions?

Raul Martinez of NBC Boston said on Twitter: “Went to his ice cream (charity) event yesterday, said we're going to ask about health & got up & left.”

Maybe that’s it.

So you’ve got the rehabbing $30 million pitcher off in one corner doing his thing, still having trouble with the attention he's receiving.

2. Around lunchtime, Farrell made his first remarks of the day, in a weekly spot on SiriusXM’s MLB Network Radio. He was asked a couple questions about the Pedroia-Machado-Barnes brouhaha, and wanted nothing of it. 

Farrell told hosts Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin that he did not mean to be short. Except he did. His answer may as well have been, “We’re on to Cincinnati.”

3. Move forward a couple hours. The Yankees-Sox game gets rained out and the Sox clubhouse opens for 30 minutes. Reporters approach Barnes, who’s appealing his four-game suspension for throwing at Machado.

But Barnes had to take care of something first before talking to reporters. Ramirez, who wasn't far from Barnes’ locker when reporters approached, tried to be some sort of shield. A goofy shield.

Remember that Ramirez has spiritually taken over for David Ortiz, or just really wants to. And Ramirez, clearly in a good mood, wanted the media to talk to him instead of Barnes.

(Ramirez, of course, doesn’t control who talks when. The media talked to both players.)

“No more talking about what happened in Baltimore,” Ramirez said at the end of his chat. “It’s over. … Let’s go Sox nation!”

Ramirez was being playful. But let’s go Sox nation? What? Who says that? 

4. Pedroia could have dodged the media for the 30 allotted minutes in the clubhouse, but he seemed to know there was an issue to quell.

“We all talked about that. We’re going to keep that in house,” Pedroia said, not nearly as jovial as Ramirez. “We feel good about each other. We all have each others’ backs. Everybody knows how everybody feels about each other. We’re pretty excited about the group we have."

Pedroia said he clarified what he meant by that “it’s not me, it’s them” comment — privately.

“I think guys that should know, know how we feel about each other and things like that,” Pedroia said. “It’s unfortunate that the outside has an opinion, but they’re going to have an opinion about everything. We all know how we feel. We’re moving on. We’re getting ready for this series, then the Cubs, then the Orioles. We’ve got a tough stretch. We’re focusing on baseball and turning the page.”

Pedroia was more testy when responding to a reporter’s question about his own words than he was a question about Orioles closer Zach Britton’s allegation that Pedroia can’t control his clubhouse.

Britton was way off-base when he suggested to BaltimoreBaseball.com that Pedroia didn’t have control of his group because Barnes threw at Machado. As though Pedroia was supposed to throw himself in front of the pitch.

But Pedroia, now 33, didn’t show off his fiery side.

He still can get riled up, but you have to wonder if his new position as the de facto team leader and his age have mellowed him. In the absence of Ortiz, is Pedroia now a diplomat?

“Everybody has their opinion. I don’t know Zach,” Pedroia said. “I haven’t played with him. I’m sure if I had played with him, his opinion of what he said would be different. I just know him as one of the best closers in the game. That’s it. His comments were said after an emotional game. Obviously he was upset at the situation. I don’t think negatively of him. I try to look at both sides before I jump to conclusions on anything.”

How pragmatic.

5. Then it was Barnes’ turn.

The Sox reliever who could have been offended by Pedroia said nothing at all, which was really his only choice. But Barnes wasn’t exactly loose, free and easy while giving non-answers. This was a tense situation, and Barnes didn’t disguise that. You can understand why.

6. Seemingly in a better mood a few hours after his satellite radio talk, Farrell had a little more to say about the the whole thing when he met with reporters at Fenway Park.

“I didn't feel any rift that was in the clubhouse because of what transpired,” Farrell said. “Any conversation that might have been needed was had and we're on to this series upcoming. What's done is done. 

“The one thing that I will say is, whether we are challenged by performance, injuries, things that take place between the lines, (I feel) very confident and strong that this is a team that's got one another's back and we handle it as a team.”

Maybe the Sox just need to work on their public relations a little bit, unify their approach. They all seem to know the bottom line.

Pedroia: Red Sox ‘all have each other’s backs’

Pedroia: Red Sox ‘all have each other’s backs’

Dustin Pedroia said he and his teammates have talked about his comments in the wake of teammate Matt Barnes throwing near Manny Machado’s head Sunday in Baltimore and that the Red Sox “all have each other’s backs.”

When asked to clarify what he meant when he said from the bench to Machado after the pitch, “it’s not me, it’s them,” Pedroia said the people who need to know what he meant by it.

Barnes is appealing the four-game suspension he was handed by MLB for the pitch to the Orioles’ Machado on Sunday, which was in retaliation for Machado’s hard slide that injured Pedroia on Friday night. 

TV cameras showed Pedroia yelling to Machado, “it’s not me, it’s them,” which some interpreted as Pedroia not backing Barnes or his teammates.

"We all talked about that and we're going to keep that in-house," Pedroia said after the Red Sox' series opener with the Yankees was postponed at Fenway Park Monday.  "We feel good about each other. We all have each other's backs. Everybody knows how everybody feels about each other. We're pretty excited about the group we have."

Barnes said there was nothing Pedroia had to clarify called him a great teammate.

Hanley Ramirez offered to speak instead of Barnes and said of what happened in Baltimore, “It’s over.” 

"No more talking about what happened in Baltimore,” Ramirez said. “It’s over. … Let’s go Sox nation."

Manager John Farrell said Pedroia, who missed the Saturday and Sunday games in Baltimore, would have been back in the lineup Monday night if the game had been played.