I must have missed the memo when Vladimir Guerrero turned into the Buddy Biancalana of the Texas Rangers.
Joe Girardi kept walking Josh Hamilton and walking and walking him to get to Guerrero. This is the same Guerrero that hit .300/.345/.496 with 29 HR’s in the regular season. At some point Vlad was going to make Girardi pay for walking Hamiltion.
That moment came in the fifth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS.
With Mitch Moreland on third and two outs, Girardi intentionally walked Hamilton to get to Vlad. New York Yankees’ pitcher Phil Hughes preceded to leave a hanging curveball out over the plate in which Vlad roped into the left-centerfield gap.
Just like that, we went from a 1-1 game to a 3-1 Rangers lead.
I can somewhat understand Girardi always walking Hamilton, but I would also venture to say the odds of Hamilton getting a hit in all those AB’s he was walked is greater than Vlad coming through just once with an extra-base hit or single.
This is the same Robertson who was tagged for five runs in a third of an inning in Game 3. This situation called for either Joba Chamberlain or even Kerry Wood, not the Yankees fourth best righty out of the pen.
This was the most critical time in the game. The Yankees are fighting for their playoff lives and this clown is playing like it’s a game in the middle of the regular season against the Baltimore Orioles.
Robertson threw a batting practice fastball down the middle of the plate and 425 feet later, the Rangers had a 5-1 lead. Game over. Series over.
The game and series was over at this point because the Yankee lineup laid down against Colby Lewis.
The Yankees deviated from their normal game plan of talking pitches, working the count and trying to get into the opposing team’s bullpen.
Instead, the Yankees approach in Game 6 was to swing at anything and everything. The tone of their lineup was set when Derek Jeter swung at the first pitch of the game and grounded weakly to third.
The Yankees allowed Lewis to throw only 102 pitches in eight innings of work as they morphed into the free-swinging Kansas City Royals for a night. But I think this night went deeper than just a bad approach at the plate. I think this went into the mindset of these recent Yankee squads.
Ever since the Yankees went into buying the best free agents mode—which essentially started in 2002—they have become a bunch of bullies. Bullies that beat on the weaker teams during the regular season, but when a playoff team punches the Yankees back, they fold like a cheap suit.
Take a look at every playoff year since 2002. Every year with the exception of last year (I will get to that in a second), the Yankees have been punched in the mouth in the playoffs. And every year, the Yankees don’t have the ability to recover from it.
Of course Yankee fans will say “But we won the World Series last year with almost the same exact team.” While this is true, last year’s team wasn’t challenged and everything, and I mean everything, fell into place for them.
They played a Minnesota Twins team that had nothing left after playing a play-in game against the Detroit Tigers. They faced a Los Angeles Angels team that was at the end of their run.
And in the World Series, they played a Philadelphia Phillies team with one starting pitcher and no closer.
On top of that, they could get away without pitching Phil Hughes twice because they had the luxury of an off day between Game 4 and 5 in the ALCS and World Series.
My point is, nobody challenged the Yankees last year.
I could go on and on with examples of the Detroit Tigers in 2006 or the Florida Marlins in 2003 or the Boston Red Sox of 2004, challenging the Yankees in a series and them not being able to handle it.
Do you think the Paul O’Neil and Tino Martinez led Yankees would have allowed a good, but not great pitcher like Lewis to completely manhandle them like that like he did on Friday night?
There isn’t a chance in hell that would have happened.
The Yankees punched the Rangers in the mouth with their comeback in Game 1, but the Rangers punched back in Game 2 and the Yankees never recovered. They thought the Rangers would fold like the Twins did and it never happened.
This was a six game series that felt like a sweep. That is how one-sided this series became.
Congratulations to the Rangers for winning the American League pennant. Coming into this postseason, the Rangers never won a postseason series.
Now they are playing for a World Series title.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg