Tigers roll, bounce Yanks from playoffs

Underdog Detroit stuns N.Y. to win AL Division Series, 3-1

Torre: `They outplayed us'

Tigers 8 Yankees 3

October 08, 2006|By Dom Amore | Dom Amore,Hartford Courant

DETROIT -- Joe Torre fought back the urge to cry in the interview room when asked about the future. Brian Cashman was straining for words through the emotion in the hallway outside the locker room.

Another New York Yankees season is over, another team proved at the end that it didn't have what it was going to take, and this time the general manager who put it together and the manager in charge of holding it together were taking it harder than most of the players.

"Well, it's certainly disappointing," Torre said. "And everyone in that locker room is disappointed. They outplayed us; they outpitched us. There's not much you can say."

The Detroit Tigers completed the dismantling of the Yankees' season, and perhaps the Yankees as we know them, with an 8-3 victory yesterday at Comerica Park, clinching a 3-1 triumph in the American League Division Series.

"I said all of spring training, I want to get to where we take the field like the Yankees take the field," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who has completely revitalized a franchise that lost a near-record 119 games with many of the same players in 2003. "There's a special air about them. There's a special confidence, not cockiness, but a special air. That's the level we want to get to.

"We've got to get that quiet swagger the Yankees get. I used them as a great example all spring, and it was kind of ironic that we got to play them, and fortunately beat them, in the playoffs."

Now the Tigers swagger on to play the Oakland Athletics in the American League Championship Series, and the Yankees, despite their $200 million payroll and a lineup that was compared to the greatest in history, packed up and limped home for a long, cold winter, one that could see many changes. They were the paper tigers in this series.

"Something wasn't right," said Cashman, who was given the authority last October to run the organization his way. "They played great baseball and we deserved exactly what we got. We played horrible. I'm stunned. I don't know what happened. I just don't know."

What happened was the Yankees rolled into this series and stumbled out in complete disarray, and their halfhearted attempts at fielding and their terrible first- and second-pitch swings against Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman made all the talk about mission, chemistry and sacrifice for the team that echoed all season ring hollow yesterday.

"Don't go there. This was not about effort," said catcher Jorge Posada, who hit a meaningless two-run homer in the ninth. "They played better than we did."

Said Derek Jeter, one of the remaining veterans of the four Yankee championship teams between 1996 and 2000: "We made winning look easy, but it's not easy to do. What you're going through now makes you appreciate it more."

This game had the look and feel of the recent few Yankees elimination games, the 10-3 loss to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, the 2-0 loss to Josh Beckett and the Florida Marlins in the 2003 World Series and, most particularly, the 9-5 loss to the Anaheim Angels in the 2002 Division Series.

All the Yankees needed was one win to go home and play a winner-take all game, but they needed their No. 4 starter, Jaret Wright, to give them a chance, and he gave up home runs to Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe in the second inning.

Bonderman retired the first 15 batters with only 40 pitches, and by the time the Yankees got a hit, Robinson Cano's soft single in the sixth, they were out of the game.

"The other day we were talking about the great offense, and now we look up and it's gone," Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon said.

An error by third baseman Alex Rodriguez led to another run and Wright's exit in the third. Cory Lidle was lit up for three more runs in the fifth, and the Tigers kept tacking on against Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth.

The Yankees hit and played just as badly Friday night in a 6-0 loss that moved them to the brink, and Torre let them have it after the game. He came to the park yesterday with another lineup shocker, taking brittle Jason Giambi out, putting Melky Cabrera in left field and dropping Rodriguez, the cleanup hitter most of the season, to the No. 8 spot.

But no one woke up. The Yankees played even worse.

"We really didn't exhibit what we're capable of," Torre said. "You get to the postseason, you want to be the hot team coming in. We felt pretty good about that."

Yet the Tigers kept getting the two-out hits and the Yankees got more than one hit in only five of 35 innings.

Rodriguez went 1-for-14 in his third consecutive miserable series. Gary Sheffield went 1-for-12, Giambi 1-for-8 and Cano 2-for-15.

"I felt like this was our best chance since I've been here to win a world championship," said Rodriguez, who insisted he wants to remain a Yankee. "It's obviously a big disappointment that it didn't happen."

Dom Amore writes for the Hartford Courant.

Baseball playoffs

Yesterday

Padres 3, Cards 1 San Diego avoids being swept for a second straight year by St. Louis.

Mets 9, Dodgers 5 New York gets its first postseason sweep since 1969.

PG 12D

Today

Padres @Cardinals, 8 p.m., chs. 45, 5

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