For the third year in a row, the New York Yankees came up short and did not make it past the American League Championship Series to advance to the World Series. Although the Yankees battled the injury bug, the team seemed to sail through the first half of the season and held a hefty lead in the American League East standings by the All-Star Break. The team was able to battle despite injuries to closer Mariano Rivera, relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain, and outfielder Brett Gardner, to name a few. The Yankees appeared to have the AL East sewn up.
However, the Baltimore Orioles started to make things a little more interesting and gave the Yankee’s players a run for their money. After the All-Star Break, the Orioles hit the ground running and continued to put the pressure on the Yankees. Meanwhile, the Yanks had a less-than-stellar second half of the season. The team lost its ample lead and saw the Orioles tie them for first. It was an on-going every day battle between the two teams for first place and it came down to the final games of the season to determine which team would win the American League East division title and who would win the Wild Card.
The Yankees went on to win first place in the American League East and clinch a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles had to face the impressive Texas Rangers in a one-game wild card game. The Orioles made quick work of the Rangers, winning the game and gearing up to face their rival Yankees in a best of five series. These two teams battled, but the Yankees came away victorious thanks to the extremely clutch hitting efforts by outfielder Raul Ibanez and impressive pitching performances from both the starting pitchers and the relief pitchers.
The Yankees then had to face the dreaded Detroit Tigers to get into the World Series. The Tigers, led by talented hurler Justin Verlander, posed a very serious threat to the battered and beleaguered New York Yankees. Suddenly, the homerun-dependent Yankee bats went silent and the team could not get a hit, let alone score a run to save their lives. Although the pitching continued to be lights out, the offense was frustratingly nonexistent.
The Yankees suffered another crushing blow when the team’s veteran shortstop and captain Derek Jeter sustained a left ankle fracture during the American League Championship Series against the Tigers. Prior to this latest injury, Jeter had been playing in pain for most of the latter part of the season as they battled for first place. Unfortunately for the Yankees, the most productive and consistent hitter of the 2012 season was now out for the rest of the playoffs. This would be the first time Jeter had not played in a Yankees postseason game since 1995.
This was yet another setback for the already struggling Yankees offense, which had failed to score more than four runs since the first game of the American League Division Series. A prevailing theme this season was the lack of production with runners in scoring position and that was no different in the playoffs. In fact, in game five of the ALDS, the Yankees left the bases loaded for a franchise-high three straight innings. The offensive woes were highlighted by the ineffectiveness of second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez was even benched for the fifth game of the ALDS and for two of the four games of the ALCS.
Although the majority of the offensive output was dismal, one bright spot was veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez. In a turn of events even Hollywood could not write or predict, Ibanez ended up helping the Yankees tremendously by hitting homerun after homerun, mostly in extra innings. He cemented his place in Yankees lore with his spectacular and unexpected heroism.
“As a Yankees fan since childhood, I was extremely disappointed with the way the team performed during the ALCS especially. With the lineup the Yankees have, there was not reason the team couldn’t score more runs. Some changes definitely need to be made this off season,” said senior political science major Nicole Duckham.
The Tigers all but destroyed the Yankees, sweeping the team in four games. So many rumors have begun to circulate around the sports world in regards to next season for the Yankees. Many say Rodriguez should, and will, be traded. However, Rodriguez is signed until 2017, according to his most recent contract. Others say that this injury may cause Jeter to hang up his cleats. There is also much speculation about outfielder Nick Swisher’s future in pinstripes. These questions and more will undoubtedly surround the team until next Spring Training.