Pitching main reason why Yanks won't repeat
Unable to produce with RISP also sank any title dreams
ARLINGTON -- Manager Joe Girardi was frank when assessing the differences between the 2009 and '10 versions of his club.
After all, last year's club seemingly cruised to its 27th World Series title while this year the Yankees fell short of defending their title by falling to the Rangers in the American League Championship Series in six games with their 6-1 loss on Friday at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Girardi pointed to two key issues his club faced this postseason as main culprits for failing to make the World Series for a second straight season.
"I think it comes down to our starting pitching was better and we hit with runners on better [last year]," he said. "Those are basically the two keys that go into a ballgame. Even the day we scored seven runs the other day, we were 2-for-11 [with runners in scoring position]."
So while Girardi pointed to just two main issues for the Yankees exiting this postseason early, here's a look at five things that the 2009 club had that could've been the difference for this year's squad, including the two issues Girardi mentioned.
The Yankees hit a robust .302 with runners in scoring position in last year's World Series against the Phillies to take the Fall Classic in six games. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who both departed via free agency, also played major roles, with Matsui delivering 13 postseason RBIs and Damon providing nine.
But the Yankees struggled mightily with runners in scoring position against the Rangers in this year's ALCS, as they hit just .151 (8-for-53) in those situations. They fared just fine in their Game 1 win over the Rangers when they went 3-for-12, but in their four losses, they batted just .100 (3-for-30) with runners in scoring position. It's a major reason why the club scored just six runs in their four losses.
The Yankees relied heavily on a three-man rotation in 2009, with CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett all pitching capably to lead the club to their 28th World Series title. Sabathia especially pitched like a true ace in last year's postseason, when he went 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts to anchor the rotation.
But this season was a different story, as Sabathia struggled with a 5.63 ERA in three postseason starts and Burnett gave up a crucial three-run home run in his lone start of the playoffs, which was a backbreaking loss to the Rangers in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium. Right-hander Phil Hughes threw seven shutout innings against the Twins in the AL Division Series, but he never hit the five-inning mark in either of his two starts against the Rangers. Pettitte was impressive again with a 2.57 ERA in two starts, but it simply wasn't enough for an otherwise inconsistent rotation.
The Yankees' bullpen helped lead the club to the title last season with an impressive 2.91 ERA during the postseason, but it certainly wasn't that way against the Rangers in this year's ALCS.
The relievers posted a combined 5.75 ERA, with Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera serving as the only dependable arms out of the 'pen. Right-hander David Robertson struggled with a ghastly 20.25 ERA in four appearances, while left-hander Boone Logan had an unsightly 27.00 ERA in three appearances.
Alex Rodriguez helped shed his label as a postseason underachiever with a huge 2009 performance with a .365 batting average, six home runs and 18 RBIs in 15 games. Derek Jeter, meanwhile, helped his reputation as a big-game performer with a .344 average, three homers and six RBIs.
But this season, the duo simply didn't get it done, as Rodriguez batted .226 with no homers and just three RBIs and Jeter hit .250 with no homers and only two RBIs. It was even worse against the Rangers, as Rodriguez hit just .190 against his former club and Jeter batted just .231.
Mark Teixeira did struggle in the postseason last year with a .180 average, but he did provide two homers and scored 10 runs with the help of drawing six walks. He also hit a big home run in Game 2 of the World Series to help the team tie up the Fall Classic at 1 before the Yankees took it in six.
But this postseason, Teixeira battled an injured hand and a broken little toe before pulling his right hamstring in Game 4 of the ALCS and missing the final two games. Teixeira was simply a non-factor against the Rangers, as he went 0-for-14 against his former club.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.