As I wrote exactly a week ago, I didn't like the Yankees matchup with the Tigers because I thought the Tigers were the best team in the American League. And that proved last night as the Tigers won a decisive Game 5 in the Bronx last night. The Tigers had a better lineup, better pitching staff, and equal bullpen to the Yanks. Add to that the Yankee hitters being utterly clutchless in big spots and this was a recipe for a Yankee postseason heartbreak, which it was.
The sports media will harp on pitching, but the common thread for the Yankee postseason losses (5 division round losses over the last 10 years) is their utter lack of clutch hitting. Alex Rodriguez finally came alive in 2009, but after an injury riddled season and being 36 even if he could have mentally repeated his exploits of 2009 his body wouldn't allow it. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, on the other hand, two key middle of the order guys, have been their usual postseason useless self. Swisher, in fact, is 1-31 with men in scoring position in his postseason career. That's staggering.
So while this season started with muddled expectations because of the Yanks' failure to get ace extraordinaire Cliff Lee, and questions about their pitching staff, it has been their consistant Achilles' Heal that has done them in--lack of clutch hitting. That is much harder to solve because of the money involved in guys like ARod and Tex. You can sign a free agent and you won't know if he is clutch in pinstripes until the opportunity presents itself. Of course, as we have seen with the likes of Giambi, Sheffield, ARod, Tex, and Swisher, that will be too late.