The Yankees’ season officially died Thursday at 7:35 p.m. The preliminary autopsy report lists the cause of death as impotent offense.
The season began its slow and painful death Saturday and Sunday with losses at Yankee Stadium. The pace accelerated Tuesday in Detroit and finally keeled over in all facets as the Yankees were eliminated from the ALCS with an ugly 8-1 loss Thursday afternoon.
The Yankees hit an astounding low .157 in losing to Detroit for the third time in the postseason. The Yankee bats also batted .188 in nine playoff games while striking out 83 times.
Up and down the lineup — with the exception of Ichiro and Raul Ibanez — there were underachieving hitters on a roster with the highest payroll in the game.
Nick Swisher returned after his one-game benching and in what was likely his last game for the Yankees went 1-for-4 and finished the postseason with five hits in 30 at-bats.
Robinson Cano was hitless in four at-bats, 1-for-18 in the series and 3-for-40 in the postseason, a performance that followed up a .313 regular season and 24 hits in his last 39 regular season at-bats.
Alex Rodriguez was not in the starting lineup for the third time in the postseason and a day after trade rumors mentioned Miami as a destination, he pinch hit for Ibanez in the sixth and flied out to center. He also made the second out of the ninth and has gone 86 at-bats without a postseason home run while going 3-for-25 in his eighth postseason as a Yankee.
Also not starting was the all-or-nothing Curtis Granderson. He entered as a pinch hitter and appropriately struck out, finishing the playoffs 3-for-30 with 16 strikeouts.
For three games against the Tigers and five against the Orioles, effective starting pitching could somewhat mask the severe hitting drought. The Yankees were hoping CC Sabathia could continue that trend.
Instead, Sabathia was chased with two outs in the fourth after allowing a double to Andy Dirks. By the time manager Joe Girardi made the slow and painful stroll to the mound to replace him with Cody Eppley, Sabathia had allowed 11 hits and 13 baserunners.
The Tigers had a modest 2-0 lead through three on RBI singles by Delmon Young and Avisail Garcia, but the game essentially ended in the third when Miguel Cabrera turned on Sabathia’s first-pitch fastball which went well over the left field wall. The Tigers made it 6-0 on Jhonny Peralta’s two-run home run in the fourth and added two more runs in garbage time on home runs by Austin Jackson off Derek Lowe and Peralta off David Robertson.
Though he has not always dominated in his 19 postseason appearances, this was among his worst. Sabathia allowed six runs (five earned) which was the second highest total in his career and 11 hits, which equaled the career high he gave up in Game 5 of the 2010 against Texas.
That start saved the 2010 season for another day because the Yankees scored seven runs. They didn’t even sniff that total in the series, let alone against Max Scherzer, who was more dominant than Justin Verlander at times.
Scherzer retired the first eight hitters and held the Yankees hitless until Eduardo Nunez led off with a triple. Nunez scored on Swisher’s double but that was the extent of the Yankee offense as they went quietly into what might be one of the more eventful offseasons in recent years.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.