What it means: That in approximately 130 days, pitchers and catchers will report to training camp in Tampa, Fla., and we'll start this all over again. Jose Valverde danced on the grave of the Yankees' season as Alex Rodriguez -- who else? -- struck out to end the game and the Yanks' playoff run, in the first round. The 2011 Yankees go out with a whimper, managing just two runs off four Tigers pitchers, one of which was forced in by a bases-loaded walk. A pathetic performance by a supposedly high-powered offense.
Ivan-a new pitcher: Yankees manager Joe Girardi yanked starter Ivan Nova after two innings despite a big strikeout of Ramon Santiago to end the second with a runner on third. Nova's shaky start included back-to-back home runs by Don Kelly and Delmon Young, on consecutive first-inning pitches. The Yankees later announced that Nova was removed because of a tight right forearm.
K-Rod: Rodriguez, who said all week he "relishes" hitting in big situations, got what he wanted in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, one out and the Yankees trailing 3-2. Batting against Joaquin Benoit, he worked the count to 2-2 -- and then swung over a changeup. A-Rod then ended the game with another strikeout.
Swissssssh!: Two batters after A-Rod's seventh-inning K -- Mark Teixeira followed with a walk to force in the Yankees' second run -- Nick Swisher swung under a 2-2 fastball to end the Yankees' last threat. Swisher finished the postseason with a .211 batting average.
Good to CC ya: Girardi brought in CC Sabathia to start the fifth inning, and the first hitter he faced, Austin Jackson, blooped a broken-bat double to left. A-Jax had been 1-for-13 coming in and struck out twice, once against Nova and once against Phil Hughes, in his first two at-bats.
Binder Backfire: The Yankees chose to have Sabathia walk the dangerous Miguel Cabrera in the fifth inning and pitch to Victor Martinez instead, but the strategy backfired when Martinez lined Sabathia's first pitch to center to make it 3-0. Sabathia went 1 1/3, allowing one run, two hits, with two walks, striking out four.
No Mo: Even more incredible than the fact that the Tigers were able to win with Justin Verlander pitching only one full game is that Mariano Rivera never got a save opportunity. Rivera made just two ALDS appearances -- at the end of Game 1, when he struck out Wilson Betemit on three pitches in a 9-3 Yankees win, and in the ninth inning on Thursday night with the Yankees trailing 3-2. On Thursday, he threw a 1-2-3 inning on five pitches. His entire postseason: eight pitches.
Just for starters: Five starting pitchers -- Nova, Tigers starter Doug Fister, Hughes, Sabathia and Max Scherzer -- appeared in the game, three in relief roles. It was the first relief appearance of Sabathia's career; Scherzer had not worked out of the bullpen since 2008, his rookie season.
Suck it up, son: The Tigers' Delmon Young left the game in the seventh inning with a "mild oblique strain."
Cano, doncha know? Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board with a home run into the second deck in right with two outs in the fifth to cut the Detroit lead to 3-1.
Easy, fellas: The Yankees let Fister off easy in the fifth, with Derek Jeter and Rodriguez jumping on first pitches and grounding out. Fister came into the inning with 82 pitches, and left with 92 and a 3-1 lead after Cano's homer.
Bye-bye, Jorge? If this was the end of Jorge Posada's career with the Yankees, he went out in style, with two hits on Thursday night and a .429 batting average in the ALDS.
What's that thing on your face? The game was held up briefly at the start of the seventh when the umpires, apparently at the urging of Girardi, asked Benoit to remove a large bandage from his left cheek before throwing his first pitch. Benoit did, reluctantly and with evident pain. Disappointingly, all it revealed was a patch of slightly reddened skin.
Nothing to be Sori about: Rafael Soriano was the Yankees' best pitcher of the night, coming in to get Santiago to ground into a double play to end the sixth and pitching a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts.