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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 8 May 2021

Bronx blues: Yankees season ended by Tigers

Another division title and the best record in the American League. A stirring regular season marked by milestones and celebrations. But it concluded with a whimper.

Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira
Image: AP images

THERE WAS DEREK Jeter’s 3,000th hit and Mariano Rivera’s record-setting save.

Another division title and the best record in the American League. A stirring regular season marked by milestones and celebrations.

In the end, however, the New York Yankees went down with a whimper. Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and almost all the big-money boppers had their chance to come through in the clutch last night. They never delivered.

Suddenly, it’s over.

“Anything less than a championship is a lost year,” Mark Teixeira said. “None of us were ready to go home.”

No parade up Broadway, no sparkling World Series ring to go with the 27 others. No fairy-tale ending for Jorge Posada. Just a long, cold winter to look back and wonder why one of baseball’s best lineups whiffed when it mattered most.

Doug Fister and three relievers stopped the Yankees in their tracks, pitching their way out of several pressure-packed jams and sending the Detroit Tigers into the AL championship series with a 3-2 victory in Game 5.

“I thought we had it, man,” Cano said.

New York manager Joe Girardi tried just about everything. He went to the bullpen early, pulling his ailing rookie starter, Ivan Nova, after two shaky innings. CC Sabathia came in for the first relief appearance of his professional career.

None of it was enough. The big bats let the Yankees down.

“Obviously this is a terrible day for us,” Girardi said. “It’s an empty feeling for everyone in that room, and it hurts. You’ve just got to remember this feeling and we’ll be determined next year.”

Jeter made a bid for a go-ahead homer in the eighth, but his drive to right was caught in front of the fence.

Quite literally, the Yankees came up just short.

They went 0 for 4 with the bases loaded and stranded 11. They finished 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position, and neither hit delivered a run. Cano cracked a solo homer that gave him nine RBIs in the series and Teixeira drew a bases-loaded walk.

That was it.

And when Rodriguez, in a most fitting finish, went down swinging against Jose Valverde, the Tigers rushed out of the dugout to rejoice on New York’s home field. Rodriguez also whiffed to end last season, in the ALCS against Texas.

“This one especially stings. Obviously, Game 5 at home,” Rodriguez said. “This is a game that we felt really good about. We should have won, and we had opportunities there late.”

Batting cleanup and nagged by injuries in the second half, the three-time MVP struck out three times Thursday and went 2 for 18 (.111) in the series. Right behind him, Teixeira was 3 for 18 (.167) as New York was knocked out of the playoffs by Detroit in the first round for the second time in six seasons.

“It’s not one guy,” Teixeira said. “It’s on the entire lineup.”

In a quiet clubhouse, the 40-year-old Posada got choked up and cut off questions about his future.

“I gave it all on the field,” said the longtime Yankees catcher, in the final year of his contract.

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Associated Press

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