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

First impressions: Red Sox lose to Yankees, still clinch AL East

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First impressions: Red Sox lose to Yankees, still clinch AL East

NEW YORK -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Yankees:

 

* The Red Sox couldn't have asked any more from Clay Buchholz.

Buchholz turned in what was likely his best start of the season, tossing six shutout innings while yielding just one hit -- an infield hit at that.

Brett Gardner was the only New York hitter to solve him. The leadoff hitter walked twice and reached on a slow roller to third, the only hit Buchholz allowed.

Twice, Buchholz retired eight Yankees in a row. He consistently pitched ahead in the count and showed a good rhythm on the mound.

Only a few months ago, the notion of Buchholz being part of the Red Sox' postseason rotation was laughable. Now, the Red Sox view him as a dependable, consistent starter.

And why not? Over his last seven starts, Buchholz is 4-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

Funny how quickly things can change in baseball.

 

* Don't invite Craig Kimbrel to your celebration.

Kimbrel came on for the bottom of the ninth, with a 3-0 lead and needing just three outs.

He barely threw a strike, allowing a leadoff single and three straight walks, the latter of which forced in a run.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Toronto had already lost, clinching the division title for the Sox before the bottom half of the inning began.

Still, it was troubling to watch Kimbrel. This was, after all, a save situation, even if some of the adrenaline was taken away by the Blue Jays' loss.

Kimbrel seemed completely incapable of throwing a strike. At all.

Hardly the way you want your closer to be a week before your first post-season game.

 

* The Red Sox lineup poses all sorts of problems for opposing managers.

In the eighth, Joe Girardi had a choice to make -- pitch to David Ortiz with two on and first base open. Or walk Ortiz and pitch to Mookie Betts, with Hanley Ramirez waiting on deck.

Pick your poison.

Girardi picked incorrectly, though there might not have been a correct one.

That's what happens when you face three hitters in a row with 110 RBI or more.

 

Red Sox clinch AL East with Orioles victory over Blue Jays

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Red Sox clinch AL East with Orioles victory over Blue Jays

NEW YORK -- The Boston Red Sox have won the AL East, clinching the division championship when the Toronto Blue Jays lost to Baltimore.

David Ortiz and the Red Sox, who had already secured at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs, will open their postseason schedule Oct. 6 seeking a second World Series crown in four years. The team's first opponent has not been determined yet.

Boston's game against the New York Yankees in the middle of the ninth inning Wednesday night when the Orioles finished off their 3-2 victory at second-place Toronto. The Red Sox began the night needing a win or a Toronto loss to wrap up their eighth AL East title.