A-Rod looks in mirror after Yankees' loss: 'I sucked'
Alex Rodriguez, who had 121 RBI during the regular season, started in the eighth slot in the Yankees' batting order on Saturday. No player with as many as 121 RBI in the preceding regular season had ever before started in the bottom third (seventh, eighth or ninth) of his team's lineup during a postseason game. The previous record was held by Gil Hodges, who batted seventh for Brooklyn in the first two games of the 1949 World Series against the Yankees, after driving in 115 runs during the regular season.
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Just like last year, Rodriguez was AWOL when the Yankees needed him most, going 1-for-14 with no RBI as the Yankees were eliminated in four games by the Detroit Tigers, the second straight first-round exit for New York.
"You kind of get tired of giving the other team credit," Rodriguez said in a somber Yankees clubhouse. "At some point, you just have to look in the mirror and say, 'I sucked.'"
The postseason left all the of Yankees with black eyes, a humiliating performance that might cause owner George Steinbrenner to order a shakeup of his $200 million All-Stars following their sixth straight season without a World Series title.
"We haven't gotten the job done," captain Derek Jeter said. "What happened the last few years has no bearing on this season. This season we didn't get the job done."
Manager Joe Torre's team won its ninth straight AL East title but showed little after winning Game 1 of this series.
"It's surprising more than disappointing," Torre said.
Rodriguez, baseball's $252 million man, was dropped to eighth in the batting order for the first time in a decade for Saturday's 8-3 season-ending loss.
He was hitless in his final 12 at-bats, dropping to 4-for-41 (.098) with no RBIs in his last 12 postseason games. He made 24 errors during the regular season, tops among AL third baseman, and his third-inning error on Magglio Ordonez's routine grounder Saturday allowed the Tigers to add another run to what already was a 3-0 lead.
"I can't talk about the rest of the lineup," Rodriguez said. "I just know that I could have done better. I have no one to blame but myself."
Booed frequently during the regular season at Yankee Stadium, the two-time AL MVP might have worn out his welcome in Bronx after three unsuccessful years.
"This was probably the toughest year of my career," he said. "I stunk. The fans booed. I stunk more, and they booed more. It got pretty ugly."
The Yankees are responsible for $67 million over the final four seasons of his record contract and could explore a deal, especially for the younger pitching they crave.
"My commitment is 100 percent. Unconditional," he said. "I want to be a Yankee. I don't want to go anywhere, and I can't be more clear. I hope they don't want to trade me, because I don't want to go anywhere."
Rodriguez would have to waive his no-trade clause for the Yankees to make a deal.
"I mean, if they're dying to get rid of me," he said when asked whether he would consider it. "I hope not. I mean, I'm 100 percent committed to being a Yankee and that's the only place I want to play. & I believe I can be part of the solution here. I've had success in New York -- in the regular season. I have to find it in the postseason."
Jeter (8-for-16) and Jorge Posada (7-for-14) each batted .500. The rest of the Yankees hit .173 (18-for-104).
"I'm stunned. This team fooled me to some degree," general manager Brian Cashman said. "This is a tough one because this team was capable of a lot, at least I thought."
Williams was 0-for-3 in the series and didn't play Saturday. He wasn't sure whether this was his last day in pinstripes.
"I am wondering that as well. I don't really know what's going to happen," he said. "I'm going to just enjoy my offseason and hopefully make a decision at some time, at that point."
New York didn't get a baserunner until the sixth inning Saturday and managed just six hits. The vaunted offense, a modern-day Murderer's Row, was held scoreless in 20 straight innings from the middle of Game 2 until late in Game 4 -- their longest scoreless streak at any point since they went 21 straight innings without a run in the 2000 playoffs.
"We're very frustrated," said Johnny Damon, who hit .235 (4-for-17) in his first postseason with the Yankees. "We were expecting to win a world championship when we showed up to spring training. A couple of days ago we were even talking about how great our offense was rolling, right after that first game. And three days later, it's gone."
When the Yankees needed a big outing from a starting staff that has been shaky at best, Jaret Wright allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings, too big a hole for them to climb out of. Randy Johnson, who turns 44 next season, and Mussina, who will be 38, both lost their postseason starts.
Carl Pavano hasn't even pitched for the Yankees since June 2005, a permanent member of the disabled list with shoulder, elbow, buttocks, back and rib injuries.
A team that looked so mighty four days earlier is headed to an uneasy offseason, all its weaknesses exposed in a shocking three-game wipeout against a team enjoying its first winning season since 1993.
"We got outpitched. We got outplayed," Posada said.
Jeter didn't want to talk about possible changes but acknowledged that 2006 will go down as a failed season for the Yankees.
"Yeah. We didn't win. What, are you going to go celebrate because you won a division title? No, we're here to win championships, that's our focus every year."
After all the concern about Mariano Rivera's tender arm, he didn't even get to pitch after the opener.
"Tough to be sitting in the bullpen and watch the team just fall like that. ... Helpless. Can't do nothing against that," he said. "It's not supposed to happen like. But unfortunately, it's happened."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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