Can’t say I didn’t warn you.
That was posted in September.
For a second straight post season, the offense disappeared when it was needed most and the Yankees are going home as they were eliminated by the Red Sox, 4-3 in game 4 of the ALDS.
Last season, the Yankees scored one run in Houston in the final two games of the ALCS and went home with a tough but “acceptable” loss to the eventual World Champions. This season is more of a bitter pill to swallow.
Yankee Manager Aaron Boone was like a “deer in headlights” with his indecision on crucial pitching changes that needed to be made and a number of other decisions that were made and not made.
There’s no sense going over Boone’s lack of urgency with replacing his starting pitchers in the final two games. You saw what went down and you’ll see plenty of that commentary from other media outlets in the days to come. It’s obvious that he messed up and was also a victim of inexperience, but, for the most part, the Yankees lost this series because of their offensive inefficiencies.
Boone’s first questionable decision of the night concerned the lineup card. In a move that reeked of panic, Miguel Andujar, one of the Yanks’ best hitters all year long, was on the bench. The Yankees started Neil Walker at third base, citing a need for an additional left handed hitter, but defense was the concern. C.C. Sabathia started the game and tends to give up a lot of grounders to third but to sacrifice Andujar’s bat on the assumption that he may make a defensive miscue was a mistake by the Yankees.
If another left handed bat was the reason for starting Walker, a switch hitter, why didn’t they put Luke Voit on the bench and let Andujar remain in the lineup. Despite this love fest with Voit, he is not a better option or hitter than Andujar. Voit was 0 for 3 with a walk, Walker had a hit and drove in a run after being hit by a pitch in the ninth with the bases loaded. Andujar led the Yankees in batting average and hits, was tied for second on the team with 27 home runs and was second in runs batted in with 92, yet he’s on the bench in an elimination game when the team’s biggest problem was their inability to produce and manufacture runs without the benefit of a long ball.
The other lineup move was Brett Gardner for Andrew McCutchen in left field. I get it that McCutchen wasn’t producing a whole lot but Gardner did not get one single hit in the post season and was awful down the stretch of the regular season. Gardner had a little problem with Ian Kinsler’s ball that sailed over his head in the third inning when the Red Sox took control of the game. Should Gardner have caught that ball with a better route, would McCutchen have caught that? All debatable, but what’s not debatable is that Gardner could not generate a single point on his batting average with no hits in eight at bats.
The Yankees defense for these changes was that left handed hitters had a 50% better OPS against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello than right handed hitters. Those numbers were the same for Nathan Eovaldi in game three, yet the Yankees started seven right handed hitters, while Porcello continued his mastery of the Yankee hitters.
Aaron Hicks was moved up to the lead off spot and had a couple of bad at-bats. In his best AB in the fifth, the best ball that Hicks hit went foul into the right field stands with runners on first and third and two out but he popped out on the ninth pitch. In Hicks’ next and final at-bat of the season in the 8th, he struck out on three pitches.
Giancarlo Stanton failed miserably in this series but in all fairness, it was his first chance at post season play and many others before him, including Hall of Fame players, struggle with their first taste of playoff baseball. That won’t let him off the hook next season when the pressure will intensify because of what happened this season.
The 9th inning rally was a microcosm of the team’s offense. If you break it down, it tells you all you need to know about how the Yankees’ offense was inefficient and failed to produce in big spots.
First and second, no one out, and Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel looks about ready to “spit the bit.” Stanton strikes out with a terrible at-bat to boot. How many times (Not pinning this all on Stanton although he was a main culprit) did you see the Yankees fail to advance runners.
After Voit walked, the Yankees found themselves with bases loaded and one out. During the season, the Yankees were not very productive with bases loaded situations. Neil Walker was hit by a pitch to force in a run and Gary Sanchez followed with that tantalizing sacrifice fly to plate a third run but give the Red Sox a huge second out.
Consider that sequence. The Yankees scored two runs on a “Hit By Pitch” and a “Sacrifice Fly”. You can’t blame it on Walker and Sanchez but how different would things have been if they would’ve gotten a hit in that spot. The Yankees did that constantly during the regular season and it carried over, not surprisingly, into the post season. Sac flies are nice when you need one to tie a game or take the lead, not when you’re trying to rally from a multi-run deficit. That’s a lift for the other team and it happened way too many times this season.
That’s the 2018 season and the ending of the 2018 season in a nutshell. No home runs, only one hit in the inning, a strikeout in a pivotal at-bat, and a “buck short” of extending the season.
It’s no secret that the Yankees need to improve their pitching but to assume that this offense is Championship worthy would be a mistake. The Yankees’ offense was overrated and that needs to be addressed in the off season, as well as the pitching staff.
Tomorrow: Why the Yankees offense was not as good as the numbers and where they need to change, not just personnel, but maybe some of their philosophy.