The Yankees Season Comes to a Bitter End

CC Sabathia can't save Yankees in season-ending 8-1 loss

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Oct 18, 2012  |  Updated 7:56 PM EDT
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The Yankees Season Comes to a Bitter End

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The lasting image of the 2012 playoffs is a sad Yankee hitter.

There's not much good you can say about this year's brief Yankee stay in the playoffs. 

CC Sabathia gave up two home runs and four runs in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, allowing the crowd at Comerica Park to start celebrating their team's trip to the World Series much earlier than the 8-1 final became official. 

In the wildest dreams of Yankee fans, Sabathia would save the day with a gem in Game Four to get the ball to Andy Pettitte and, one way or the other, get the series back to the Bronx. Sabathia gave up runs in the first and third, though, and he clearly didn't have his best stuff after an extended rest caused by Wednesday's rainout. 

When Miguel Cabrera connected for the first of Detroit's two two-run homers in the fourth, the game was all but over. The Tigers would homer three more times and dreams of a 2004 Red Sox-style comeback were replaced by memories of a Game Seven of 2004 Red Sox-style evisceration of the Yankees. 

For the first time since the 1976 World Series, the Yankees have been swept out of the playoffs and they never even held a lead in any of the four games. It was a one-sided beatdown fueled by the Yankees' total inability to hit, including five no-hit innings to start Game Four from Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer. 

Scherzer also piled up the strikeouts, raising some reasonable thoughts that we might be on our way to the third playoff no-hitter in history. Once the Yankees fell behind 6-0 in the fourth, it felt like the team might just check out and race to get back home. 

That didn't happen as Nick Swisher doubled home Eduardo Nunez in the sixth to put the Yankees on the board. That's likely the last RBI Swisher will have in a Yankee uniform as he is about to hit free agency after a fourth straight postseason disaster at the plate. 

The entire offseason has gained a new level of intrigue based on the way this series played out. Players you assumed would be here -- Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, both of whom appeared as pinch hitters in Game Four -- could be out the door as the Yankees try to address the issues that went wrong in October. 

You don't want to throw out an entire season because of four bad games, something Joe Girardi arguably did with his radical and failed attempt to reinvent the lineup, but it does feel like the Yankees are at something of a crossroads. They are old, they lack versatility and their offensive emphasis on home runs leaves them without another option when things aren't going their way. 

There was exactly one rally in this series, the ninth inning of Game One, and the rest of the series was feeble at-bat after feeble at-bat that ended with an out. If there's a silver lining to the loss, it is that the magnitude of it was so big that Brian Cashman should have plenty of cover to take a few risks in order to change the direction of a team that looks like it is need of freshening up. 

There's plenty of time to have those conversations now that baseball will be absent from our shores until the calender reads 2013. The Yankees are done in the quickest and most painful fashion imaginable. 

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