The good, the bad and the odd in Yankeeland during the ALDS
BEST OF THE BEST: CANO'S GRAND OPENING
Robinson Cano was the offensive star in Game 1, hitting a grand slam and driving in six total runs to lead the Yankees to a 9-3 win.
Grand Slam by 2B
Yankee Postseason History
Cano's grand slam was the 11th by a Yankee in postseason history, and the six RBI matched a Yankee postseason record, done also by Bobby Richardson (1960 World Series), Bernie Williams (1999 ALDS) and Hideki Matsui (2009 World Series).
A search of the Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com gives us these other facts about Cano's grand slam as he became the:
• fourth Yankee second baseman to hit a grand slam in the playoffs
• third Yankee to hit a grand slam in a home postseason game, along with Richardson (1960 World Series) and Tino Martinez (1998 World Series)
• second number three hitter with a postseason grand slam for the Yankees, joining Paul O'Neil who did it in the 1997 ALDS
WHAT A RELIEF
The Yankees opened the ALDS with a rain delay in Game 1 that ultimately led to a suspension of the game in the second inning with CC Sabathia having struck out four of the seven batters he faced.
That allowed Sabathia to earn a place in the Yankee history books with this quirky feat: he is the first Yankee starter with four strikeouts in two innings or fewer in a postseason game.
Ivan Nova was on the hill when the game resumed Saturday and he nearly made history with his 6⅓ inning, two-run relief appearance. Nova is the fifth Yankee to pitch at least six innings in relief and win a postseason game, joining Bump Hadley (1939), Don Larsen (1957), Bob Turley (1958) and Bud Daley (1961).
Nova also became the fifth Yankee to win his postseason debut in the team's first game of the postseason. The others were Red Ruffing (1932), Spec Shea (1947), Jim Beattie (1978) and Ramiro Mendoza (1997).
HIP HIP HIP JORGE
The Yankees' Game 2 loss was an offensive struggle from the start as Tigers righty Max Scherzer didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his no-hit bid of 5⅓ innings matched the longest no-hit bid against the Yankees in postseason history.
Scherzer became just the third pitcher to throw six scoreless innings with two hits or fewer allowed in a postseason game against the Yankees in the Bronx. Cliff Lee did that last year for the Rangers in Game 2 of the ALCS and Warren Spahn also did it in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series for the Braves.
Jorge Posada hit a triple in the ninth inning as the Yankees tried to rally from a four-run deficit. Posada became the oldest player in major-league history to hit a triple in a postseason game. The only other 40 year-old to do it was Joe Morgan in the 1983 World Series.
Posada also was just the third Yankee designated hitter with a postseason triple. The others were Ruben Sierra in the 2001 ALDS and David Justice in the 2004 ALCS.
DJ FEELS THE BREEZE
The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the series as Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters over eight innings in Game 3. Verlander became just the sixth right-hander with 11-or-more strikeouts against the Yankees in a postseason game.
Most Strikeouts by RHP vs Yankees
Sabathia struggled in this re-match of aces, allowing six walks and seven hits in 5⅓ innings. Sabathia became the first Yankee starter to walk six batters in fewer than six innings pitched.
He also was the fourth Yankee starter to allow at least 13 baserunners while getting fewer than 18 outs. The others on this uninspiring list are Scott Kamieniecki (1995), Chien-Ming Wang (2007) and Phil Hughes (2010).
Derek Jeter struck out to end the game, with the Yankees down a run and two guys on base. The only other Yankees to have a game-ending strikeout with the tying and winning runs on base in a one-run game were: Reggie Jackson in Game 2 of the 1978 World Series and Rick Cerone in Game 4 of the 1981 ALDS.
A.J. IS ALRIGHT
Facing an elimination game just four days into the month of October, the Yankees sent A.J. Burnett and his 5.15 ERA to the mound with the hope that he could help the Yankees extend their season a few days more.
Burnett responded with 5⅔ innings of one-run ball in the Yankees 10-1 victory, and with that performance, he became the first qualifying Yankee pitcher to finish the regular season with an ERA over 5.00 and win a postseason game.
The Yankee bats broke out late in the game with a six-run eighth inning. Cano contributed two RBI in that inning, bringing his total to eight for this series, which is a Division Series record by a Yankee.
Nick Swisher loaded the bases with a single in that inning and recorded his his first hit with runners in scoring position in his postseason career. It snapped a 0-for-28 slump that was the longest streak of hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position in postseason history, according to Elias.
Jesus Montero joined the hit party too, when he batted for Jorge Posada and singled in both the eighth and ninth innings. He became the second-youngest Yankee to have a multi-hit game in the postseason, bested only by a 20 year-old Mickey Mantle in the 1952 World Series.
How rare was this nine-run blowout win in this do-or-die game? According to our perennial Guest Yankeemetrician, Mark Simon, it was their biggest win in a game in which they could have been eliminated from the postseason since a 12-0 win over the Pirates in Game 6 of the 1960 World Series.
BUMMER ENDING IN THE BRONX
The Yankees season ended with a 3-2 loss to Tigers in Game 5 of the ALDS. This was their third straight loss in a "winner-take-all" postseason game, and they are now 11-11 all-time in those games.
Of the 11 losses, six have been by a single run. However, this was just their second one-run loss at home in a "winner-take-all" postseason game. The other came in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, as Grover Cleveland Alexander finished that game for the Cardinals.
Alex Rodriguez struck out to the end the game. He is the first Yankee to strike out as the final out of "winner-take-all" postseason game. My blogging colleague, Mark Simon, points out that the other Yankee to make the final out of a one-run loss in a "winner-take-all" game at home was Babe Ruth, when he was caught stealing to end the 1926 World Series.
Rodriguez also struck out to end the 2010 postseason. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in major-league history history to strike out for his team's final out in consecutive postseasons.
The Yankees were behind early as Nova gave up back-to-back homers in the first inning. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time that the Yankees have allowed back-to-back HR in the first inning of a postseason game.
Only once before had they even allowed two homers in the first inning of a postseason game: Game 2 of the 1958 World Series vs the Milwaukee Braves.
Cano hit a solo homer in the fifth inning, which gave him nine RBI in this series. That matches the second-most RBI by a Yankee lefty in a single postseason series. Graig Nettles (1981 ALCS) and Lou Gehrig (1928 World Series) also had nine, while Matsui has the most, with 10 RBI in the 2004 ALCS.
Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning, requiring just five pitches to retire the three batters. He threw only eight total pitches in this series, the fewest he's ever thrown in a single postseason series. His previous low was 12, which he did in the 2002 ALDS and the 2006 ALDS, both of which the Yankees also lost.
The Yankees failed to win this series despite outscoring the Tigers by 11 runs. That's the biggest run differential for a team that lost a Division Series in postseason history, according to Elias. The only team with a larger run differential to lose any postseason series was the 1960 Yankees, who outscored the Pirates 55-27 in the World Series but lost in Game 7.
Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information