ARLINGTON, TX—Big stars, a big payroll and lots of big comebacks. It all makes for one big disappointment that the New York Yankees won't be repeating as World Series champions.
The Yankees' reign ended Friday night at the hands of the Texas Rangers. Phil Hughes got into trouble in the fifth inning and a supposedly powerful lineup went down meekly against Colby Lewis, sending Texas to a 6-1 victory and putting the franchise in the World Series for the first time.
Joe Girardi said. "And as I told my guys, this hurts. I've been through it as a player. I've been through it as a coach and now I've been through it as a manager. It's not a lot of fun watching other teams celebrate."
The Bronx Bombers came into the AL championship series expecting to clobber the upstart Rangers, just like they had in their three previous postseason series back in the late 1990s. With their postseason pedigree, more wins this season and a first-round sweep, the Yankees were heavily favored to claim their 41st AL pennant.
But they really only outplayed Texas in one inning of Game 1 and all of Game 5.
"They outhit us, they outpitched us, outplayed us and they beat us," Girardi said. "You take away one inning and one game, and it was very one-sided. We just didn't get it done."
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson were the only reliable hitters. Mark Teixeira was hitless in 14 at-bats this series before being lost to an injury. Cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez had just four hits and leadoff man Derek Jeter scored only two runs.
"It doesn't matter what kind of lineup you have on paper, you still have to play the games," Jeter said. "They pitched better than our offense. We couldn't get a lot going. They're moving on. They're the better team. They beat us. ... We thought we had a team that could win it. But they did too. Obviously they were better than we were. It's never a given to be in this position, any year."
Mariano Rivera was outstanding as usual, but Girardi was only able to use him in a single save situation - Game 1. The starting pitching let the club down, from Hughes failing to finish the fifth inning in either of his starts and A.J. Burnett getting into trouble in Game 4. Even ace CC Sabathia was bad in the opener, which New York won 6-5 with a five-inning rally in the eighth.
"Sometimes you run into a buzzsaw," outfielder Nick Swisher said. "It's been an uphill battle the entire series. But sometimes you've got to pull off some tough wins. We couldn't get that done. That nasty feeling we have in our stomachs right now, that's definitely going to help us this offseason."
On deck, a possibly wild winter.
Jeter's contract is up, as are the deals for Girardi, Rivera and Andy Pettitte, who would've started Game 7.
General manager Brian Cashman wore a hat with " spring training" written on it, sending the message he's already planning for 2011. Asked about re-signing Girardi, Cashman said, "I would think that it would be the first order of business."
A close second might be pursuing Cliff Lee.
Lee is the new ace of the Rangers, but the way he's dominated the Yankees the last two seasons makes them want him even more. They almost got him in a midseason trade, but lost out. Texas may have given up better prospects to get him from Seattle, but if this negotiation comes down to money, well, there's no equal to New York's willingness to spend.
Jeter wasn't ready to talk about his free agency or anything else offseason-related.
"I haven't even thought about it," he said. "It's 15 minutes after we lost. I'm not thinking about what we need next year. We just lost. I can't comment on that."
Pettitte said he wishes he knew what's next for him.
"I'll talk to my wife and see what she's thinking, and then see how I'm feeling about it, whether I want to do it again," he said.
Winning title No. 28 this season would've been extra special to the Yankees because of the special people commemorated on jersey patches: owner George Steinbrenner and longtime public-address announcer Bob Sheppard. They died within days of each other this summer.
Hal Steinbrenner, the club's managing general partner, issued this statement: "On behalf of the New York Yankees I want to congratulate the Texas Rangers, Chuck Greenberg, Nolan Ryan and their entire ownership, staff and organization on winning their first American League pennant. They played like champions and we wish them the best of luck representing the American League in the World Series."